When I first ran for office, Alabama was reeling from the Great Recession. Unemployment was high. Our state budgets were maxed out. The Rainy-Day accounts were drained, and the state was borrowing money just to keep government running.
State revenues were so bad that mid-year budget cuts for schools and state agencies – known as proration – had become the norm. You see, this is especially chaotic for a state government whose primary purpose is to serve people through teachers, law enforcement, road workers, and health care workers, because slashing those budgets usually means laying people off.
Thanks to conservative, commonsense leadership, and budgeting since then, things have changed in a big way. Just 12 years after our Rainy-Day funds were exhausted, we have paid back $900 million in debt today.
We have also built up our state savings accounts so that when another Rainy Day comes, we will be prepared. Additionally, we have filled the Alabama Trust Fund, and I am especially happy to report that we have not encountered the disruption of proration in a decade.
Not only have we put the State of Alabama on firm fiscal footing again, but we have streamlined state government. In this fast-changing world, state government had to become more efficient and operate at the speed of business. We consolidated and rightsized state agencies in a way that allowed us to operate better with almost 4,000 fewer employees across state government.
This hard work has positioned us for strength — and we now have a rock-solid foundation for further 21st century growth. Bolstered by the Legislature’s recent appropriation of federal ARPA funds, which saw $1.06 billion invested in a strategic, targeted way that will benefit generations of Alabamians to come, Alabama is poised to continue moving forward on firm footing.
I often think about the men and women of my district, who are just like the millions of hard-working Alabamians across this state.
They are not looking to the government to solve all their problems. They just want the government to stay out of their way. They need government to make sure they are safe. Make sure their children can get a quality education. And to make sure we have an environment that is friendly to good-paying job creation and economic growth so they themselves can work and prosper.
Ultimately, our goal every day of serving is making Alabama a better place to live the American Dream. We’ve tackled tough, generational issues that had been kicked down the road for decades – from fixing our crumbling roads and bridges through Rebuild Alabama to addressing the prison crisis. But we still have a long way to go, and we are hard at work moving the needle on a daily basis.
We have come a long way getting to this point, and Alabama is well positioned for the future. With the continued commonsense, positive leadership of my colleagues, I am confident that Alabama’s best days are to come.