Gov. Kay Ivey was sworn in this morning along with other constitutional officers in a ceremony of pomp and circumstances on the red carpet-lined steps of the Alabama Capitol.
The National Guard performed a flyover of the event, where the Alabama National Guard presented colors and the concert ensemble of Booker T. Washington Magnet School performed for a crowd that included four former governors and other constitutional officers.
Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions – whom Ivey pointed out came out of Wilcox County, as did she – also was in attendance, along with Reps. Bradley Byrne and Martha Roby representing Alabama’s congressional contingent.
A parade down Dexter Avenue was to follow at noon, and the Inaugural Gala will be held tonight at the Montgomery Civic Center.
Wearing a burgundy coat and cream pants on this overcast morning, as temperatures hovered in the mid-40s, Ivey pointed to recent successes in Alabama and laid out a few of Alabama’s biggest challenges in the coming year, which she said she looked at as “opportunities.”
The good news on this Inauguration Day is that our budgets are strong and our financial health is good.
“More Alabamians are working today than ever before and our economy continues to grow and prosper.
“With ‘Strong Start, Strong Finish,’ we are making our largest investment ever in education. We are setting high standards for student learning, and our efforts are paying off as we provide our students with the tools they need to grow and succeed.”
“And speaking of our congressional delegation, my administration has already been hard at work with local and state leaders in all 67 counties to begin the tedious, but all-important, task of making sure we get an accurate head count for the upcoming Census.
“This isn’t just about the possibility of losing a seat in Congress; it’s much more important than that. It’s also about protecting our crucial Federal funding that the hard-working taxpayers of our state send to Washington.
“As this work kicks into high gear, it is all our responsibility to make certain that every citizen is counted in the 2020 Census; that’s the only way to make certain that “Alabama counts” when it matters most.”
“As Governor, one of my proudest accomplishments has been establishing a strong bipartisan relationship with the Alabama Legislature. In order for our state to work properly, we must work closely together.”
Roads, Bridges and a Gas Tax
“In her Inaugural address, Governor Wallace called on the Alabama Legislature to, among other things, provide greater funding to build and improve our roads.
“Interestingly, on January 21st, 1919, when Governor Kilby was sworn in to office, during the year we celebrated our Centennial, he, too, called for a commitment to improve our roads and bridges. …
“Today, I follow in Governor Lurleen Wallace’s footsteps in many ways and make the same ask to the members of the Alabama Legislature.
“After all, if we want to compete in a 21st century global economy, we must improve our infrastructure by investing more in our roads, our bridges and our ports.
“Improving our infrastructure is more than an investment in our roads and bridges; it’s an investment in economic development, public safety and local communities.
“It has been nearly three decades since we last made any changes to our current funding, and the challenge has grown with the passing of time. Now is the time to increase our investment in infrastructure – now is the time to solve this problem!”
Much like our roads and bridges, our prison system, too, has been sorely neglected for decades. The poor conditions of our prisons create a risk to public safety and are placing a heavy burden on taxpayers.
“The status of our corrections system is an Alabama problem that must be solved by an Alabama solution. As your governor, I plan to do so. We are revitalizing our statewide corrections system by replacing costly, at-risk prison facilities. This effort will ensure that Alabama stays committed to statewide prison reform, and we will be announcing more detailed plans in the coming days.”
Changes on the Cusp of the State’s Bicentennial
“Thankfully, the Alabama we live in today – the Alabama we love – has changed with the times and, in most instances, this change has been for the better.
“But we would be less than honest with each other if we did not acknowledge that change has not always come easily. Standing here on Dexter Avenue, we are reminded of two different chapters in Alabama history: a time when the Civil War raged and 90 years later when the Civil Rights movement was inspired.
“It is important for all of us to acknowledge our past; after all, it was at a pulpit just down the street that Doctor Martin Luther King Junior so powerfully taught us how to confront struggles with honesty, courage, and love.
“Having learned from the past, let’s now turn our focus to the future, which is filled with so much hope and opportunity.
“Alabama successfully helped launch the program that took man to the moon and returned him back safely. And today, we continue to build the next generation of rockets that will take men – and women – to Mars and deep space and return them home safely.
“It is hard to believe that 25 years ago, not a single automobile was built in Alabama. Today, we are one of the largest automotive producing states with soon-to-be five global automotive companies.
“And only six years ago, we did not build a single airplane in Alabama. Yet, today, we are assembling one of the world’s best-selling single-aisle aircraft with a major groundbreaking happening later this week.
“Just as Huntsville is recognized around the globe for its work in space exploration and discovery, I predict in just a few short years, Mobile will become one of the top four cities in the world where large, commercial aircraft are assembled. And we will reach this milestone in under a decade.
“Over the next four years, we will build upon these advancements, attracting even more world-class companies and creating more good paying jobs. As we create these new opportunities, we will also be challenged with the task of ensuring that our workforce is prepared and equipped not just for the challenges of today but for the jobs of tomorrow.
It can be easy to focus only on the issues that need the most immediate attention – such as education, roads and prisons – but in reality, as we dig in and begin to address these issues, I hope the progress that we make will inspire us to tackle other pressing challenges, such as health care, rural economic development, access to broadband and other important issues.
After all, these matters can be seen either as a challenge or an opportunity; I prefer to believe they are opportunities worthy of a state whose good people are fortunate to call Alabama their home.
So today, I stand before you filled with optimism and eager with anticipation of what’s yet to come.
More good paying jobs. Better education for our children. Roads that are the envy of the nation. But one thing is for sure … We cannot do this work alone.
And we need everyone to help … teachers, farmers, job creators, health care professionals, law enforcement and the media.
Read the full speech: Ivey 2019 Inaugural Address