Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth spoke Tuesday at the Alabama Business Council, highlighting a wide range of policy increases that have been identified as top priorities across state government.
He provided insight into the latest advances in workforce development, education and training, child care, support for small businesses and military families, and managing the state's strong fiscal position.
“From an economic perspective, I'm very bullish about 2024,” Ainsworth told a room of business leaders.
“I think this is going to be a really good year for business. When you look at it, one, I think our state is in the best shape it's ever been in from a fiscal standpoint. Not only did I pay off my rainy day account, I also opened a new savings account…”
“We are in a good financial position going forward,” Mr Ainsworth said.
Related: Ainsworth envisions Alabama as “the workforce engine of the Southeast.”
The Lt. Governor emphasized workforce development as a critical area for Alabama, noting the need to address the lack of skilled labor as a major limiting factor to business growth. This is also the subject of his 21st Century Workforce Commission, which released a landmark report last month alongside legislative leaders.
Many thanks to the Alabama Business Council for allowing us to announce our plan to streamline Alabama's workforce development system, limit property tax increases, and create one of the most business-friendly environments in the nation. I would like to say this. We will continue working on these reforms until they become law. pic.twitter.com/1j6BZil3Zz
— Will Ainsworth (@willainsworthAL) February 13, 2024
His initiatives include creating a cabinet-level position focused on workforce development, creating a new advisory board of industry representatives, and introducing a workforce pathway diploma to prepare students for jobs in industry. , proposed several initiatives.
“They're going to know everything that's going on,” Ainsworth said of the person who will eventually become a state employee.
“Look, community colleges are doing a good job, K-12 is doing a good job. AIDTwe have Apprenticeship office – All these different silos – Federal money is raining down on you. Wioa funds. But as a state, we need to make sure we have one person who understands the big picture. ”
Related: Governor Ivey reflects on last year's successes in BCA speech, sets tone for productive 2024 session
Ainsworth focused on three additional priorities for a collaborative workforce effort that brings together executive, legislative, educational, and business leaders. These include childcare tax credits, extensions of overtime pay exemptions, and caps on property tax assessments.
“Property taxes have gone up through the roof, sometimes by 10, 20, 30, 40 percent. And it's hard to fight that when you don't agree with it. So we look at what other states have done. 5% cap for commercial businesses; 3% for residential, agricultural, forestry, historic buildings and grounds.”
Mr. Ainsworth was committed to reaffirming Alabama's leadership in aerospace and defense and supporting industrial expansion in the state. He also highlighted efforts through the Military Stability Council to make Alabama the most veteran- and military-friendly state in the nation.
He emphasized his determination to work with Alabama's business leaders to solve common challenges and put Alabama in the lead. “We appreciate your efforts. We look forward to working with you and the industries you represent to make Alabama the best business environment in the Southeast and the nation.” said Ainsworth.
Grayson Everett is the state and politics editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @Grayson270