Robert Bentley and Ron Sparks both know that job creation by the next governor is a major issue for Alabama voters this November. However, I feel less than inspired by their proposed plans to create jobs. Both candidates are promoting laws that have already been passed as major jobs initiatives.
Robert Bentley has released his first campaign ad since the primary runoff and the first thing he talks about is how he offered 5,000 new jobs to Alabama through the Alabama Reemployment Act. To his credit, he was the primary sponsor of the bill, but it passed both houses by June. The law gives tax credits to Alabama employers that hire persons currently collecting or have expired unemployment benefits. The credits vary depending on the employees wage but can’t be claimed until the employee works 12 consecutive months and doesn’t apply if employees make less than $10 per hour.
Ron Sparks has been pushing his plan to invest $1.4 billion in road and bridge projects to create 38,000 jobs. His proposal includes a $400 million immediate contribution plus $100 million per year for ten years. Well, the $100 million over ten years part is exactly what SB121 does, which passed both houses of the legislature and will be a ballot initiative November 2nd to amend the state constitution. So 70% of Sparks’ big infrastructure idea will be voted on the same day his own fate is voted on. 45% of the money in the bill will be distributed evenly between all 67 counties and 55% will be allocated to counties based on population. State Senator Lowell Barron of SD8 is the primary sponsor.
I look forward to more in depth and specific job initiatives by both gubernatorial candidates. Considering we need at least a quarter million new jobs to reach full employment, Alabama deserves as much.