Governor Kay Ivey will discuss the 2020 census, Alabama’s prison crisis and education in her State of the State Address on Tuesday. Ivey offered the preview during a speech Friday at the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama’s annual meeting in Birmingham.
Ivey calls this year’s federal census “make or break” for Alabama and says everyone needs to respond when the census count begins April 1st. Alabama is at risk of losing a congressional seat because it has not grown as fast relative to other states. The census also determines funding for an array of government programs.
“This is a critical time and the outcome will affect the future of our state and every citizen,” Ivey says. “Leave no stone unturned.”
Ivey mentioned Alabama’s ongoing prison crisis. Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice threatened a federal lawsuit because of violence and overcrowding in state prisons. The Alabama Department of Corrections is under a court order to increase staffing in the next few years. Prison staff numbers are far below recommended levels.
A prison study group set up by Ivey issued recommendations this week. The governor is also pursing a plan to build three new, larger prisons and close most others. She says that will “transition our facilities from being warehouses to rehabilitation.”
Ivey says education is a high priority for her administration, but lamented Alabama’s often poor showing in state rankings.
“It seems to me we’ve just gotten complacent and accustomed to being at or near the bottom,” Ivey says. “But our children are suffering from this. We need to get energized about fixing the education system.”
Ivey encouraged those at the meeting to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot March 3rd. Under the amendment, members of the state school board would be appointed by the governor and approved by the Senate. Board members are currently elected.
Ivey will give her State of the State Address Tuesday evening at 6:30. WBHM will carry that speech live.