BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — Before the midterm election tomorrow, see where gubernatorial candidates Mayor Walt Maddox (D) and Gov. Kay Ivey (R) stand on seven key issues.
As a former teacher, Ivey has made clear her support for improving the education in Alabama. Upon taking office, Ivey introduced her “Strong Start, Strong Finish” initiative. The program focuses on three stages of education: early childhood education, computer science in middle and high school and workforce preparedness.
Here are the specifics:
- “Pre Through 3” is a campaign that aims to improve reading proficiency. The goal is that, by 2020, all Alabama third graders will read at or above grade-level proficiency
- “CS for AL” prioritizes STEM and computer science education. $325,000 was allocated for fiscal year 2018 to provide scholarships to students pursuing teaching careers in math and science. One goal is that at least one computer science course will be available in every high school
- “Advanced Training, Better Jobs” is an attempt to develop policies and programs that equip Alabamians with the skills and education needed to fill high-demand jobs through public-private partnerships for workforce training. A goal is to lower the equity attainment gap through drop-out prevention programs such as Jobs for Alabama Graduates
Ivey also signed three bills earlier this year that provide pay raises for state employees, education employees and provide a one-time bonus for retired state employees, according to a press release. It was the first raise to pass in almost a decade.
“Our teachers mold our children and thus our teachers mold our future — that’s why I proposed a teacher pay raise and why I am pleased to sign it into law,” Ivey said in the release.
Maddox’s plan for education has centered around establishing a lottery, using the estimated $300 million Alabamians spend on tickets in surrounding states to fund various initiatives.
“As Governor, I will propose the Alabama Education Lottery (AEL) which if passed by the Legislature would be a constitutional amendment to be voted on in November 2020 by the people of Alabama,” Maddox said on his website.
The creation of an education lottery is one of many issues Maddox and Ivey don’t agree on.
Alabama is one of five states — and with Mississippi passing a lottery bill in August it is now the sole Southern state — without a lottery.
It has been a key part of Maddox’s campaign.
“The lottery’s been part of our platform from the very beginning, and we certainly believe that $300 million a year should be invested in college scholarships, pre-k programs and to our schools that are struggling so that we can begin to lift everyone up in the state of Alabama,” Maddox said in August at the Association of County Commission of Alabama conference.
And recently, Maddox addressed the issue at the downtown Huntsville Rotary Club.
“We can have the moral debate on the lottery, but are we going to have the moral debate on children not getting an education?” Maddox said. “There’s a moral debate to be had there too, and so that’s why I fall on the side of the lottery.”
On his website, Maddox details his plan for an education lottery.
The four proposed programs are:
- Scholarships for Alabama students for higher education and workforce development programs
- Expansion of the state’s pre-k program to all Alabama students
- Creation of the Promise Program to fund the state’s poorer schools
- Creation of Community Innovation Grants to assist schools and regions in utilizing existing medical, mental health, social assistance and psychological support programs
Ivey has been less outspoken on the issue, voicing concerns over the logistics.
“Just a pure simple lottery, that would probably have some merit, but there is no such thing as a pure simple lottery,” Ivey said at a press event shortly after she was sworn in as governor. “Section 65 of the (state) constitution, I believe it is, forbids the lottery, so if we are going to have a lottery, we have got to repeal that, and if we repeal that, it opens the door for all types of gambling.”
Recently she has appeared to warm up to the idea, saying she would support a referendum on amending the state constitution to allow for a state-wide lottery. At the same Association of County Commission of Alabama conference, Ivey reiterated this position.
“If the people want to vote that’s fine.”
School safety is an issue where Maddox and Ivey are diametrically opposed. In May, Ivey signed an executive memorandum that established the Alabama Sentry Program (ASP).
“The ASP would allow schools which do not have a school resource officer (SRO) to provide administrators with the necessary tools to respond in an event of an active shooter. In this case, the tool we are discussing are firearms,” Ivey said at a press conference.
Here are some of the program’s guidelines:
- Firearms on campus must be secured in a safe
- To become a sentry, administrators must successfully complete training created by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA)
- A sentry must have a concealed carry permit
- A sentry must also pass drug screenings, a mental health evaluation and a stress test
Maddox has said the plan is “idiotic.”
He has instead proposed a five-part school safety plan:
- Design all future schools with security as a central focus and put SROs in every school
- Provide school security officers and staff with active shooter and other school safety training
- Ban the possession of guns except for trained school security officers
- Implement protocols to identify people who are prone to violence by integrating the Department of Mental Health, ALEA, local law enforcement and schools
- Fully supporting rational gun control efforts to ensure those that are mentally unstable don’t get guns
THE SECOND AMENDMENT
Ivey is a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. On her website, she said she will “always defend our right as law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms.”
In May, the National Rifle Association endorsed Ivey and gave her an “A” rating, the highest a lawmaker can receive.
Ivey has also released several campaign ads on gun rights. One ad, titled Tough as Nails, shows her shooting a handgun at a gun range.
Maddox has said he’s pro-Second Amendment but believes there should be regulations on weapons such as assault rifles — the type of gun most often used in mass shootings.
In an NRA questionnaire, Maddox said he will defend all U.S. Constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment.
“The right to bear arms is central to the creation and preservation of our republic, but it clearly is no more central than our right to free speech,” Maddox said. “So, I stand with those who would protect the liberties provided through our Second Amendment. As Governor, I will fight to ensure the preservation of all rights guaranteed by our Constitution.”
In step with many Democrats running for office, Maddox has put health care at the center of his campaign with a focus on expanding Medicaid and addressing rural health care.
Maddox has said he will sign an executive order expanding Medicaid immediately upon entering office.
“Expanding Medicaid remains my central focus,” Maddox said on his website. “Not only will it mean that up to 330,000 additional Alabamians will receive health insurance coverage that they cannot afford on their own, including 200,000 people who are already working in jobs but don’t have health benefits, it will also act as an enormous economic stimulus.”
Maddox has said he would use the Medicaid expansion to address rural health care.
“If we lose this election and miss this opportunity, according to the Alabama Hospital Association, there will be 12 more rural hospitals closed in the next two years,” Maddox said to the downtown Huntsville Rotary Club.
Ivey has stayed away from expanding Medicaid, and last year she also decided against implementing a plan that would have reorganized Medicaid around Regional Care Organizations (RCOs). RCOs are a form of managed care that shift fees to the medical providers to incentivize more efficient care. Last year, Ivey announced Alabama would move away from the plan in favor of the Trump administration’s promise to allow more flexibility in Medicaid implementation.
However, Ivey has been in favor of other alternative approaches to health care. In October, Ivey announced a new Medicaid long-term care program called the Integrated Care Network (ICN). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved the program on Sept. 12. It is for Medicaid recipients who live in a nursing facility or receive services in their homes through Medicaid’s elderly and disabled waiver or the Alabama community transition waiver.
“This is a significant step in our efforts to transform the delivery of services to Medicaid recipients,” Ivey said in a press release. “My goal remains to ensure that all Alabamians receive high-quality health care, no matter their economic status.”
Ivey is staunchly pro-life and has often spoken out about her opposition to abortion. In a campaign ad posted to her Twitter account, she discussed the issue.
“I’m pro-life because God teaches us to love life, and he created us, and he wants us to love one another,” Ivey said in the ad. “I believe life begins at conception. I am strongly pro-life.”
In the caption, Ivey hit Maddox on what she said is his “liberal stance” on the issue.
“Whether it’s his liberal stance on late term abortions, Planned Parenthood or his refusal to even acknowledge the sanctity of unborn lives, Walt Maddox is too extreme for Alabama,” Ivey wrote.
In August, Ivey released a statement on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that affirmed a lower court decision that struck down the Alabama Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act. The act would have limited access to second-trimester abortions, what pro-life advocates refer to as late-term abortion.
“I was supportive of the bill when it passed through the Legislature in 2016, and I signed it as president of the Senate,” Ivey said in a press release. “I am disappointed in the court’s ruling today.”
She is also a strong proponent of amendment two, which will appear on the ballot Tuesday. Amendment two will not change any state law, though it will create a state policy that Alabama recognizes the sanctity and rights of unborn life.
Walt Maddox has largely stayed away from discussing abortion, but he has described himself as a pro-life Democrat who supports a woman’s right to choose and exemptions for crimes such as incest or rape.
In a questionnaire sponsored by the Alabama Policy Institute and Yellowhammer News, Maddox said “as a governor sworn to uphold the federal and state constitutions and the laws of Alabama, I will faithfully execute Alabama’s laws within the constitutional limits defined by the (U.S.) Supreme Court.”
Immigration is an increasingly contentious topic, with President Donald Trump using the issue to motivate Republicans ahead of the election. Though it isn’t as high-priority an issue in Alabama, Maddox has addressed it, coming out against sanctuary cities but in favor of a pathway to citizenship.
“As mayor, I resisted the calls to make Tuscaloosa a sanctuary city because we are a nation of laws, and you don’t get to pick and choose which ones you’re going to enforce,” Maddox said in a campaign ad. “This means two things. Number one, we must protect our borders. Number two, we must continue to provide a pathway to citizenship. That is what built this great country.”
Ivey said she supports Trump’s recent calls to end birth-right citizenship, and, like Maddox, said the U.S. must protect its borders.
“I’m all in his (Trump’s) court,” Ivey said to reporters at the Sumpter Smith Air National Guard base when visiting with Vice President Mike Pence. “I believe we need to have fair immigration laws. Some of them need to be refined and upgraded, close loop holes. We’ve got to protect our boarders.”
In April, Ivey approved the deployment of one helicopter and five Alabama National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border at Trump’s request.
“Alabama is committed to ensuring the safety and security of our nation,” Ivey said in a statement. “We have the greatest group of service men and women in the country. The Alabama National Guard stands ready to answer the call and we are proud to assist in the Southwest border mission.