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EXCLUSIVE: Governor discusses plans for education, COVID-19 relief funds

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 9:07 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 10:35 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Gov. Kay Ivey delivered her State of the State address Tuesday night and spoke about many issues and her solutions in the state. After her speech, the governor sat down for an exclusive interview with WSFA 12 News to talk about her plans for 2022.

“Our number one priority needs to be a focus on improving the education system, especially K-12,” said the governor.

Alabama has some of the lowest scores in the nation for reading and math, and the pandemic only contributed to the problem, so when it comes to raising the scores there are different ideas the governor wants to be implemented.

“It’s not one size fits all,” she said. “So we’re going to be very strategic and very specific with our efforts to try to improve student learning and especially early grades.”

Such efforts include a math task force to complement the Alabama Literacy Act that already has promising results. She also wants to provide grants for elementary schools in order to fix their specific problems.

But it’s not just the learning aspect of schools that matters to Ivey.

“Focus on having mental health care available in our schools, on-campus sites, so that children who are showing symptoms can get early attention,” said Ivey.

Her push for quality education doesn’t stop there.

“Teachers have had a struggle too. They deserve a 4% pay raise,” said Ivey.

When asked how the pandemic would affect these plans, Ivey said, “This is year three. We know what the pandemic is and how to deal with it.”

The governor said she’s excited about her plans for the new year and ready to tackle them, even as the pandemic continues to loom over us.

“We just need to hunker down and learn to live with this virus and take the precautionary measures to protect ourselves and those we love, and press on,” she said.

To help push through the pandemic, Ivey and the Legislature must decide how they want to spend around $580 million left from round one of the American Rescue Plan funds.

“Sometimes it’s more difficult to pass a budget when you got a lot of money. But the ARPA funds, the guidance from the Treasury is very clear,” said Ivey.

Ivey suggests investing the money into statewide broadband connectivity, hospitals, nursing homes, and health care providers among others.

“It’s just important that we spend those funds as one-time funding because it’s not going to be repeated,” said Ivey.

When asked if she plans to call a special session, Ivey said, “In my speech, I urged the Legislature to make addressing the offer funds an early priority. And we’re certainly talking with the Legislature about that. So stay tuned. All options on the table,” said Ivey.

No confirmation or denial, so everyone must wait to see what this legislative session will hold.

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