Six candidates vying to be the next governor of Alabama sat down for interviews with professors and professionals from across the state Wednesday night during a forum sponsored by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.
Three Republican candidates – Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Evangelist Scott Dawson and state Sen. Bill Hightower – and three Democratic candidates – former state Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, former state Rep. James Fields and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox – participated in the forum, held at Woodrow Hall in Birmingham’s Woodlawn community. Gov. Kay Ivey, who also is seeking the Republican nomination in the June 5 primary, was invited to the forum, said PARCA director of communications Marci Smith, but the governor declined.
Organized by the PARCA Roundtable group of young professionals, the forum featured 12-minute, one-on-one interviews with each candidate by interviewers who belong to or were selected by the Roundtable. After the interviews, the candidates took turns answering questions submitted by the audience. Read more.
The Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama has found that Alabama high schools are sending more graduates out into the world and they are sending more students to college, but some of those students are taking a little bit of time out in the world before they head to campus.
In 2016, 63 percent of high school graduates enrolled in college in the year after they graduated from high school, according to PARCA. In 2014, that portion was 65 percent
Alabama’s roads and bridges are in relatively good condition compared to other Southeastern states.
More of the state’s roads are in good condition compared to other states, fewer are in poor condition, and the percentage of its bridges that are deficient and need to be replaced is about average for the Southeast, according to the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama.
But in its “How Alabama Roads Compare” report, PARCA found that the state has devoted an increasingly large share of its budget to preserving existing roads, and it has a shrinking pool of money available for new projects. In fact, in recent years Alabama has borrowed more than $1.3 billion, but the authority to borrow has been exhausted. In 2018, Alabama will have about $250 million less to spend on roads than it had in 2017 because of the loss of money to borrow and an increase in the state’s debt service.
PARCA in its report notes that Alabama has not raised its 18-cents per gallon motor fuels tax in 25 years. Meanwhile, improved fuel economy of cars and trucks means less gas is being bought in Alabama, and so the tax revenues have dropped.
Read the full report here.
The divide between state government and its people is wide, and there’s no bridge in sight.
In a recent survey conducted by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, more than two-thirds of those surveyed said state government officials don’t care what they think, and slightly less than two-thirds said they feel they have no say in what government does. Read more.