The race for governor: The economy

The race for governor: The economy
Voters will head to the polls Tuesday for Alabama's 2018 primary election.

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Over the course of the next week we will look at the different candidates for governor through different issues. Tuesday is the first part of this series on the economy. 

Jobs Jobs, Jobs every candidate running for state office wants more of them and say they can be the person to bring them to Alabama. The race for the governor's office is no different.

Every candidate had two things in common, first they wanted to bring more jobs to Alabama, and second, they believe improving workforce development is a main ingredient in attracting more jobs to Alabama. Beyond that there are some differences, below is a breakdown from some of the candidates.


Kay Ivey

Gov. Kay Ivey is standing by her record. Ever since taking office, Ivey has seen job growth and low unemployment rates throughout the state.

"These investments will bring in more than 8,000 new jobs the unemployment rate has fallen every month we have been in office," Ivey said during her state of the state back in January.

Ivey has touted her leadership as new companies have come into the state over the last year.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle

Battle's pitch boils down to his record and experience in Huntsville. Want jobs, Battle points to 24,000 new jobs, and $3 billion worth of investment. Battle said Huntsville has improved education, roads all things battle describes as a "precursor to growth."

"Growth means opportunity we want to provide opportunity for everyone in Alabama," Battle said.

Battle said the whole essence of running for governor is he can bring the success of Huntsville to the entire state.

He said helped bring 24,000 jobs to the state and hopes to do the same statewide, through providing leadership.

Battle knows about Ivey's claims of job creation over the last year, but Battle said many of the new jobs come from his area alone, including the Toyota Mazda plant.

Battle said over his 10-year tenure. 62 percent of Alabama's job growth has come from the Huntsville area. The mayor points to major companies like Polaris, GE aviation, Remington, Masada Toyota and others all making their homes near Huntsville.

Battle wants to implement his same plan to the entire state. The mayor's first two focuses: improve education and improve the state's infrastructure. He said by providing the workers and making sure things like transportation are easy to do, it makes the task of attracting more jobs much easier. The two focus plan is simple on purpose, Battle said you do not want to throw "too much at the plate at one time."

Scott Dawson

"I believe I can get into a board room and build relationships. If my eternity is based off a relationship, everything in my life should be based on relationships," Dawson said.

When it comes to creating jobs, Dawson said he wants to get government out of the away to allow natural job growth. However, if a business is on the fence about coming to Alabama, and needs convincing, Dawson said he can be the man to convince them to come into the state.

Dawson feels for too long Alabama has taken what he calls an "either or" approach, pursuing outside business at the expense of companies already in the state.

"Alabama businesses pay Alabama taxes, we need to set them free," Dawson said.

Dawson proposes setting up an independent council. If a business has a  regulation or fee it believes is unreasonable, the company could bring it to the council for review. The council would then give the agency in charge of the fee or regulation a chance to defend it, and if it couldn't be defended, the regulation should be "struck from the books."

The Alabama native also wants to set up an independent council to look at regulations and fees placed on Alabama businesses, meant to do away with any unneeded regulation.

Sen. Bill Hightower

The state senator wants to move across the street to the governor's office. Hightower touts his experience working for Fortune 500 companies and a conservative record in the Alabama legislature.

He said his experience working in big business will help him attract more jobs to Alabama. Hightower stressed that while bringing in out of state companies are great, Alabama should not ignore its home grown businesses.

"I wondered, where is the leadership across the street. We've had a dermatologist as a governor, we've had a lawyer as a governor, we've had career politicians, why shouldn't we have a businessman," Hightower said. "I know what companies are looking for."

Hightower said his experience as a businessman, coupled with his experience as a state lawmaker gives him the unique ability to help attract jobs to the state.

"I'm not going to give everything the state has a way to get a company to come down," Hightower said.

Hightower said the state has a worker crisis and he would bring the need for workers into high schools, by offering certification programs on the high school level. The state senator said the program could help give some kids a purpose and give them a better lifestyle.

Hightower supports cutting the state's corporate tax rate. The idea, make it "incredibly great" to do business in Alabama so the state does not need to give so many incentives to incoming companies.


Walt Maddox

Maddox said it's not about just bringing jobs to Alabama but about making sure Alabamians can fill those good jobs. The key, the Tuscaloosa mayor said, is trying to close the skill gap between available jobs and Alabama citizens.

Maddox proposes consolidating the four state agencies which deal with work force development.

"Where you have multiple lines of responsibilities you have no accountability" Maddox said.

The mayor said his second part is through training workers through education, through his "Alabama education Lottery" plan.

Maddox said a lottery would generate around $300 million, a common estimate from lottery proponents. He says he would call a special session on day one of his administration to deal with the problem.

Sue Bell Cobb

"We can truly bring in more jobs when we maximize workforce development," Cobb said.

For Cobb bringing in more jobs to Alabama is directly connected with education, fixing the skill gap employers say exist. Cobb said to maximize workforce development, the state would need to pass her "Lifelong Learner Lottery."

$50 million of the lottery money would go to fully fund vocational or career tech programs. Cobb said the money would be enough to have "state of the art" instructors and equipment.

However, after improving education, Cobb said the state needs to improve its national reputation.

"I can't imagine a better way, than to hire a woman with my career and my history as the spokesperson to the United States," Cobb said.

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