Kay Ivey

When Gov. Kay Ivey stepped to the podium on March 7th to deliver her 2023 State of the State address, she chose to spend a large amount of her time speaking about education.

Ivey, a former educator, told those in attendance, “our students, our young people are why the work we do today matters.”

She told legislators that the government “must ensure that our children receive a quality education no matter where they live.”

Ivey says the state should, for the first time, require children to complete kindergarten before going into first grade. The governor also aims to improve overall education, especially reading and math, and to fund after school programs throughout the state.

She also told the audience, “my goal is to have the starting salary for teachers in Alabama to be the highest in the southeast by the end of my term.” To that end, she proposed a 2% increase in teacher salaries for this year.

Ivey did not spend her entire time at the podium focused on this one issue, however.

She promised to spend the remaining $1 billion dollars in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) for “major and needed endeavors” such as increased broadband access and improved water and sewer infrastructure.

The governor also called for a special session of the legislature to invest “nearly a billion dollars” in Alabama families through a one-time rebate of $400 per person or $800 per family.

“We know times are hard right now,” Ivey said, and called these funds “the people's money.”

In an echo of what Mayor Steven Reed said earlier the same evening Ivey called on the legislature to renew the Alabama Jobs Act and the Growing Alabama Act. She, like Reed, said that these initiatives help to recruit industry and high-paying jobs to the state.

Ivey ended her speech by predicting a “strong and productive” session and telling legislators “let’s work together and let’s get to work.”