Economy, Ethics & Education were the key topics of Governor Bob Riley's State of the State address this evening.
After paying homage to the late Governor Guy Hunt. Governor Riley began his speech by discussing the economic state of Alabama. The Governor proclaimed that Alabama is weathering the storm better than most, and its business climate is ranked in the top 3 in the nation.
Governor Riley received the 1st standing ovation of his speech when he announced that Alabama has no better partner for growth than Germany. More than 50 German companies have located in the state. Dr. Lutz Goergens, Germany's Consul General was in attendance seated with First Lady Patsy Riley.
Part of Governor Riley's plan for stimulating Alabama's economy and workforce is a Back-to-Work Tax Credit of $500.00 to encourage companies to hire unemployed workers. Governor Riley stated that we want employers to hire people who need a job right now rather than someone who already has a job.
Another proposal made by Governor Riley is a Targeted Job Creation Tax Credit. As laid out in the Governor's plan it is a $1,500.00 incentive over three years for each new job created in counties with the highest unemployment levels.
Moving into Ethics reform, Governor Riley stated that this state will never reach its full potential unless it enacts ethics reforms that finally build confidence in state government.
The proposal calls for a complete overhaul of Alabama's ethics code. Noted by Governor Riley, this would be the first comprehensive rewrite to Alabama's ethics laws since 1973. In the proposal the ethics commission would-for the first time-have subpoena power and an attorney general or district attorney would be given a reasonable amount of time to either prosecute an ethics case or decline it.
Governor Riley finished his speech with Education, praising the state for all of the accomplishments it has made over the past 6 years with the Alabama Reading Initiative, Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative and ACCESS Distance Learning. He then recognized State Superintendent Joe Morton and the Alabama State Board of Education for its efforts.
The Governor's proposal to the State Budget would protect funding for those programs mentioned above. Governor Riley also discouraged those who believe gambling money would solve the State's Education budget problems.
The speech ended with the Governor asking everyone to stand together, find common ground and work for a common good.
Look for more legislative coverage on Thursday inside the Alabama State House.