Creating a clean, competent, and competitive Alabama.
The path to success for Alabama students begins with a first-class education. We must reverse the chronic pattern of underinvestment in our schools, students, teachers, and classroom technology. By investing in our public schools now, we can rebuild our skilled workforce and lay the foundation for economic growth and development for years to come. Our goals are ambitious, but so are our young people. They deserve nothing less than an education agenda that is at least equal to their talent and drive. Quality early childhood education is the key to putting Alabama children on the right track in school, work, and life. Strong, well-round Pre-K programs offer our young people an increasingly essential start in their academic careers. From early literacy initiatives, to STEM activities, to exposure to foreign languages, to art and music to strong Pre-K programs are the building blocks for life-long learning. In addition, expanding Cradle-to Pre-K programs for children and families in need will close the achievement gap in low income communities. If we are to compete and succeed in the global economy, our young people must have early access to opportunities and skills that ensure future achievement.
Investing in our Educators:
Educators across Alabama routinely reach into their own pockets to subsidize their classrooms. They do so because they care about their students. Currently, the lack of adequate compensation is forcing some of our best and most passionate teachers into retirement or other careers. To shine brighter than our neighbors in Tennessee and Georgia—and to make Alabama a more desirable place to live and work for teachers and their families—we must invest to attract and retain top-notch, dedicated teachers. In addition, it’s high time that our retired educators receive a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA). It’s a small price to pay for those who have devoted their careers serving our communities.
Our economy is changing. We must work to anticipate and respond to these changes by ensuring that businesses have access to the skilled workforce and the human capital they need to thrive in Alabama. Starting in high school, we must strive to craft new workforce development opportunities for young Alabamians by promoting dual enrollment and workforce trade programs, while considering initiatives for those who commit to careers in public service. Dual enrollment will allow more high-school students to get a head start on college and reduce higher education costs) by taking college-level courses. Expanding workforce trade programs will give students hands-on experience in vocational and technical careers by bringing real-world job situations and connections into the classroom. Alabama Democrats will also work to keep our best and brightest minds in Alabama by backing initiatives that support those who commit to careers in service, such as education or healthcare, through scholarship funding or deferred tuition.
Alabamians face an uncertain landscape when it comes to access to affordable, quality health care. Democrats want to work with the federal government and a transitional health care system to make sure all citizens, regardless of income level or pre-existing conditions, can purchase insurance and stay with the physician of their choice. No workingman or woman should be an accident or diagnosis away from financial ruin. We must provide assurance to families that an unexpected sickness will not deplete their life savings. Alabama Democrats support commonsense approaches to controlling rising healthcare costs while ensuring all residents have access to quality care. That includes an emphasis on preventive care to reduce long-term costs and increased access to mental health treatment options, as well as expanding Medicaid to shore up rural hospitals and rural healthcare providers. We Support viable and feasible measures to strengthen existing programs that assist our most financially vulnerable citizens, including Medicaid.
Fighting the Epidemic of Addiction:
Opioid and prescription drug addiction have become a widespread public-health crisis for our state and our nation. We must combat this epidemic head-on through a cohesive and multi-pronged approach that includes law enforcement, public health, and community-based initiatives. Alabama Democrats will work for bipartisan solutions that promote education and prevention programs, crack down on illegal drug dealers and unscrupulous over-prescribers, and expand recovery and treatment opportunities for those suffering from addiction.
Supporting Mental Health:
We have both a moral and a legal responsibility to provide quality mental health treatment options for Alabamians suffering from mental illness. Failure to meet that commitment with adequate funding levels and effective programs has only led to increased costs in emergency care and incarceration, not to mention the human cost in countless lives devastated and families disrupted. Alabama House Democrats will thoroughly review statefunded mental health services to ensure that such appropriations are spent wisely and provide first-rate care. Alabama must support a mental health care delivery system based on evidence-based practices and accessible to all citizens, family caregivers, law enforcement personnel, and healthcare providers.
Sentencing and prison reform is increasingly a bipartisan issue. State-run prisons should exist primarily to preserve our domestic safety and rehabilitation, not as an employment program for prison staff. Rather than continue with overly broad and obsolete policies that hurt so many communities and bankrupt our state, Alabama Democrats favor a policy approach focused on the principles of effectiveness and efficiency. Through evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation programs – proven programs that work, we can boost the success rate of an ex-offender’s reentry into society. As we help them to transform their lives, these citizens can, in turn, contribute to stronger and more vibrant communities in our state.