After meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, Governor Kay Ivey addressed Alabama’s opportunity to participate in his infrastructure plan that has been released.
“I look forward to working with the Alabama House and Senate to ensure we are ready to hit the ground running once the federal infrastructure plan is implemented,” Governor Ivey said in a statement after the meeting.
Governor Ivey has been a supporter of improved infrastructure investment in Alabama, which the Legislature declined to approve in the 2017 regular legislative session.
Business Council of Alabama president and CEO William J. Canary said Governor Ivey’s continued support for infrastructure improvement acknowledges its importance as part of Alabama’s economic development efforts.
“The grass-roots Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure has been promoting responsible infrastructure investment that was last increased in 1992,” Canary said in a statement. “Neighboring states have been increasing their infrastructure investment and those actions could hurt Alabama’s ability to recruit economic development. Governor Ivey’s support for infrastructure improvement and her response to President Trump’s infrastructure plans will return the debate to the front burner where it belongs.”
Trump’s plan certainly will require public participation in the form of state dollars but Alabama isn’t ready yet since the infrastructure improvement plan was shot down by the Legislature in the 2017 regular legislative session.
Trump met with Governor Ivey, other governors, and mayors in the White House after releasing broad information about his plan, which includes public-private partnerships.
Speaking at a waterfront marina in Cincinnati, Trump promised to create a “first-class” system of roads, bridges and waterways. He proposes funding improvements with $200 billion in public funds over nine years that would theoretically leverage $1 trillion worth of construction in both urban and rural America.
“We will create the first-class infrastructure our country and our people deserve,” Trump said Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. “America must have the best, fastest and most reliable infrastructure anywhere in the world.”
The President’s plan will also make America ready for the future with a work-force training initiative focused on skill-based apprenticeship education and creating 1 million apprenticeships in two years, the White House said.
Trump said that as he campaigned across the country last year, people often asked him why the U.S. was spending money to rebuild other countries when the roads and bridges they travel on needed rebuilding, too, the AP reported.
The White House has billed this week as “infrastructure week” and planned a series of events including a discussion of infrastructure spending.”It’s time to rebuild our country” and to “put America first,” he said.
Photo Courtesy of Governor’s Office
NAM OUTLINES HOW TO GET INVOLVED IN INFRASTRUCTURE
The BCA’s national partner, the National Association of Manufacturers, this week outlined how to contact federal office holders to support President Trump’s $1 trillion investment in infrastructure.
NAM president and CEO Jay Timmons urged members of Congress to support Trump’s call for a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure and outlined many of the high-priority proposals in the NAM’s “Building to Win” policy agenda.
Timmons noted that “a targeted, substantial investment in modernizing our nation’s infrastructure would create jobs, boost economic growth, save lives and help secure America’s mantle of economic leadership in the world.”
Manufacturers (and others) can offer their support for infrastructure investment by using the resources in the NAM’s Infrastructure Toolkit to contact policymakers, write letters to the editor, and share content on social media.
NAM staff also joined President Trump at a Department of Transportation event where he announced reforms that will allow federal projects to be built faster and more efficiently.
Trump this week drew the nation’s attention to the need for infrastructure revitalization, calling for modernization of the air traffic control system and visiting the Ohio River to highlight the economic importance of inland waterways.
LABOR DEPARTMENT MOVES TO REVERSE OVERTIME RULE
The Labor Department is taking the first steps toward weakening an Obama-era rule to expand overtime pay that dramatically increases costs for business. At a House budget hearing Wednesday, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said the agency plans to file a request for information and public comments on the overtime rule in the next two to three weeks.
The rule, blocked Dec. 1 by a Texas district court order, more than doubles the Fair Labor Standards Act threshold for who can qualify for overtime, from $23,660 to $47,476 a year. Acosta suggested that he supports an increase but thinks the threshold was set too high.
Business groups called the news a positive step in the right direction. “We’re extremely glad they are reviewing this issue,” Jack Mozloom, a spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business, said.
Mozloom said the rule has forced small-business owners to either convert full-time salaried employees back to hourly workers or cut other benefits. The higher overtime threshold in most places in the country is a significant amount that could jeopardize jobs.
Twenty-one states challenged the rule in court last year and a federal judge in Texas blocked it from taking effect.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Allstate’s Tom Wilson: New Chamber Chairman Driven by Purpose
(U.S. Chamber staff 6/8) “Tom Wilson believes finding and fulfilling a purpose is the hallmark of success-for individuals and businesses. It’s a message he drives home to his 43,000 employees and more than 10,000 agency owners as chairman and CEO of The Allstate Corp., the nation’s largest publicly traded personal lines insurer. Now, as he takes on an additional role as chairman of the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Wilson is urging the business community to redefine its sense of shared purpose by working together to address society’s biggest priorities.
“His vision is rooted in an understanding that businesses must recognize and adapt to challenges such as the loss of public trust and the increasing speed of technological change. Wilson took on his first leadership role at a major company in 1993 when he became vice president of strategy and acquisitions at Sears, Roebuck and Co. Wilson watched as the once mighty retailer lost ground to new competitors. In 1995, when Sears’ insurance subsidiary, Allstate, was spun off as an independent company, Wilson decided to spin off with it.
“Wilson is now ready to make that case to the entire business community as chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce-an organization that has long shared his belief in the power of business to make a difference. Wilson is a proud champion of the positive role businesses play in society every day by driving job creation, opportunity, and economic growth-but he is vocal in his belief that they must do more. As U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue says, ‘Tom Wilson is an outstanding messenger for business not because he talks the talk but because he walks the walk’.”
Nearly 7 Million in U.S. Seek Employment, Tax Cut Could Boost Jobs
U.S. News & World Report (Soergel 6/7) “Employers were looking to fill more than 6 million vacancies at the end of April. At the same time, government data suggest nearly 6.9 million Americans are out of work and actively looking to land a job. The math isn’t lost on economists and business leaders, who see the record number of job openings and the millions of unemployed Americans still sitting on the sidelines and find it increasingly difficult to ignore the skills gap plaguing the private sector.
“‘Imagine if we could match those 6.9 million [unemployed Americans] to 6 [million job openings]. The unemployment market would virtually disappear,’ Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta said at an event Wednesday morning hosted by Business Roundtable.
“Fundamental employment skills – solving basic math problems, communicating effectively, working as part of a team – are the first problem area. Second is a lack of candidates with specialized skills – mostly to work in trade professions like welding and mechanical repair, which don’t necessarily require a college degree. And finally, STEM skills – refined science, technology, engineering and math abilities that usually require some form of higher education – are at a premium, especially among women and minorities. The best results … occur when ‘businesses team with community colleges and vocational schools’.
“But Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., noted the economy won’t run efficiently with so many Americans still out of work and so many employers looking for candidates. ‘The truth of the matter is … if we lower the corporate tax rate by 10 [percentage] points, if we have permanent repatriation and bring home $2.5 trillion, we see synergy in our economy. If we don’t take care of the workforce readiness piece, creating 6 million more jobs to go on top of the 6 million [vacancies] we have today will not grow our economy 3 percent’, he said.”