MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - This is one part in our series on the candidates in Alabama's upcoming June 5 gubernatorial primary elections.
Put simply, Walt Maddox's pitch to be Alabama's next governor is about his experience and improving the state's future.
He wants to increase teacher salaries, pay for workforce development, address mental health issues and expand Medicaid, among other things. His plan to pay for it starts with passing a lottery, taxing gaming, and entering into a compact with Alabama's Native Americans.
Maddox touts his experience for more than a decade as Tuscaloosa's mayor and says he's someone who can provide results.
WHO IS WALT MADDOX?
Mayor of Tuscaloosa since 2005, he is married to Stephanie and has two children, Taylor and Eli. Maddox was the city leader after the devastating 2011 tornadoes.
The mayor says his response to the tragedy showed his ability to provided executive leadership when it matters most. Maddox says he can bring "results not rhetoric" to Montgomery.
JOBS AND THE ECONOMY
Maddox says it's not about just bringing jobs to Alabama but about making sure Alabamians can fill those good jobs. The key is trying to close the skill gap between available jobs and Alabama citizens.
Maddox proposes consolidating the four state agencies that deal with work workforce development.
"Where you have multiple lines of responsibilities you have no accountability," Maddox believes.
The mayor says he wants to train workers through education as part of his "Alabama Education Lottery" plan
LOTTERY, EDUCATION, AND TRAINING
Maddox thinks a lottery would generate around $300 million dollars, a common estimate from lottery proponents, and would call a special session on Day 1 of his administration to deal with the problem.
Under the "Alabama Education Lottery" plan, the money would be split to provide:
- Universal Pre-K
- College scholarships similar to the Tennessee lottery plan
- An effort to equalize funding between rural and urban schools
- Expand craft academy training, expand scholarship opportunity for apprenticeship programs.
- And for the 75 struggling schools, provide wraparound mental health and health services. The goal, address not only the academic deficits but other deficits.
When it comes specifically to the classroom, Maddox wants to increase teacher salaries. His plan would use rolling reserve money, which is meant as a back up in case of an economic downturn, to increase teacher pay.
Maddox thinks that if your house was on fire you wouldn't want the lowest paid firefighter so why would you want the lowest paid teacher?
Maddox says he would expand Medicaid on "day one." He says the state has already missed out on $1.8 billion and 30,000 new jobs.
The state faces a major funding issue. Medicaid and the Department of Corrections are eating up larger and larger pieces of the state budget year after year. Other state programs like the court system and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency are each operating on a bare-bones budget, not to mention the state's infrastructure issues.
Maddox says his plan to provide funding starts with his lottery plan.
And Maddox also says he wants to make a compact with the Poarch Creek Indians and tax existing gaming, hoping to bring in around $100 million.
He believes all of these options must be pursued before taxes should be raised. He did not rule out eventually raising taxes.