By Bill Armistead
Alabama led the nation with the largest decrease in unemployment for the month of December with a decrease of .6% from 8.7% to 8.1%. This is the 6th month in a row that the unemployment rate has declined in Alabama. It has dropped from a high of 10% to the December rate of 8.1%. And you should know that this didn’t happen by accident. The Governor and the Legislature passed legislation last year that rewards business for expanding in Alabama and locating in Alabama. The new Illegal Immigration law also has caused jobs to be opened up to many unemployed citizens.
But this is not the end of the work that has to be done to continue to provide jobs to Alabamians who are seeking employment. The Legislature will go back into session on February 7th and the Governor and Republican leadership in the Legislature have an agenda that will prove to be helpful to businesses who want to do business in Alabama.
Their plan includes giving the Alabama Development Office and the Governor more flexibility to recruit and retain major economic development projects by offering tax incentives.
The “Made in Alabama” Job Incentives Act will allow the state to offer temporary state income tax incentives to offset tariff costs for international companies bringing jobs to the state. The AEA is trying to block this legislation, but we will do all we can to make sure that Alabama jobs comes before special interest politics.
Our Republican leaders also have a proposal that would offer Alabama businesses a tax credit, ranging from $1,000 – $2,000, for hiring a veteran who has recently returned from the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. They have several other bills that we will be focusing on the in the coming months.
Governor Bentley and the Republican legislative leaders have also worked hard together to develop a comprehensive and reformative education agenda that will help Alabama schools continue to improve. Under their plan, teachers will receive tax credits towards buying supplies for their classroom to ensure they have the resources they require to help meet the needs of Alabama students.
They will also offer flexibility to existing schools by allowing them to implement innovative strategies currently restricted by state law. Parents will be offered more choice by the legalization of charter schools in our state. By giving parents more public school options, they can select the school environment that is right for their children. The charter schools will initially be established as a pilot program to ensure that they are successful before expanding it throughout the state.
Of course, the AEA and Democratic legislators have already come out in opposition to some of these bills, but that’s to be expected. As usual, they prefer to do things the way they have always been done, even when they are not working. As Mark Twain once said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.” It’s time that we put children first as we reform education in Alabama. We know this will be a battle for the legislature to accomplish because of the opposition from the AEA and Democrats in the Legislature who are beholden to them. But we have the leadership in Montgomery who will ensure that we are successful in passing meaningful education reform.
I can assure you that I will work with Governor Bentley, Lt. Governor Ivey, Speaker Hubbard and President Pro Tem Marsh to move these bills forward so that we can put more Alabamians back to work and ensure our students a first class education. I’ll keep you updated on our progress.
For the Cause,
Bill Armistead, Chairman
Alabama Republican Party