Alabama Construction News

JUL-SEP 2018

Alabama Construction News is the states only bimonthly magazine dedicated to the commercial construction industry.

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Page 40 of 67

39 JUL–SEP 2018 AL CONSTRUCTION NEWS outcome to the state and its residents. Infrastructure is not just limited to our roads and bridges. Our ability to continue to attract world-class companies and improve access to quality education and health care is dependent on widespread access to high speed internet. I prioritized broadband access by supporting and signing "The Broadband Accessibility Act" into law during my first full legislative session as Governor. This law is an important step to moving Alabama forward by ensuring our citizens have the tools and resources needed to succeed in this modern economy. But I'm not done yet. I plan to continue to work with existing internet providers, education leaders, health care providers and others to identify even more ways to expand our broadband capabilities so that every citizen who needs access will have it available. Q U E S T I O N : Alabama has a strong history of being a merit-based, open-shop labor force, allowing economic forces to set wages through supply and demand. There is a consensus belief that this attribute is largely responsible for our state's tremendous growth in automobile and other manufacturing in the last couple of decades. This is also the key principle of the founding and mission of ABC. Will you take a pledge that, should you be elected Governor, you will fight to keep Alabama a merit-based workforce in all sectors and trades, as well as to fight against the expansion of unions in every way possible? Why or why not? A N S W E R : As a conservative, I am a strong proponent of free market policies that empower businesses to start, operate, grow and succeed. I also support Alabama's right to work policy. I believe workers should be entitled to work without being forced to join a labor union. This affords workers more freedom, including financial burdens. Being (Ivey continued) a right to work state is not only good for workers, it's good for the overall economy as it increases competition and promotes more economic growth. Q U E S T I O N : A shortage of skilled trades workers has been prevalent in recent times and is now more evident during economic growth. Many blame a part of this shortage on the cultural mindset that every person should go to college in order to be a success. Many different groups have tried to solve this problem in their own way. ABC recently added a tool to help this problem by working with the legislature in 2016 to get a bill passed that allows apprentice training tax credits for companies with certified programs. What would you do specifically to encourage the growth in number of skilled trades people? A N S W E R : I understand that companies are changing the way they do business, and they are constantly reevaluating the type of workforce they employ. With those changes, we are also seeing a shift in the skills needed to compete in today's workforce. According to a recent report, Alabama will need an additional 500,000 high-skilled employees by 2025 to meet industry labor's needs, as well as compete for new business. In order to stay competitive in a global economy, we are working with business and industry to ensure we have the training necessary to equip Alabamians with the skills needed for these high-tech, high-skill jobs. This year, I introduced a new plan, The Success Plus Initiative, to grow Alabama's high-skilled workforce pipeline by 500,000 employees by 2025. The plan will focus on improving access to education opportunities, including certificates, credentials and degrees; create pathways and defined routes that show people how to achieve their career goals; and encourage collaboration among private and public entities. Q U E S T I O N : Would you support a long overdue gas tax for infrastructure improvements/development/maintenance? A N S W E R : Raising taxes should be considered only when necessary for government to fulfill one of its core functions, and our rapidly deteriorating roads and bridges demonstrate that the state has failed to keep pace with its obligation of providing and maintaining a safe and reliable transportation system. Fuel consumption is one of the most direct measures of highway usage – hence the concept of gas taxes dedicated to highway construction. But with the rise in fuel efficiency, our flat fuel tax that has not been increased since 1992 means that Alabamians are actually paying $40 less in annual fuel tax than we did 20 years ago. In order to improve our highways to safe levels that will support a growing economy, I support the plan put forth by the Alliance for Alabama's Infrastructure, including a 12 cent per gallon fuel tax increase, which should be sufficient to meet critical infrastructure needs. This increase has also been recommended by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama and is fully justified. Q U E S T I O N : What is your plan to improve workforce development in Alabama? A N S W E R : The Alabama Education Lottery will generate $300 W A L T M A D D O X

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