By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, who said she “steadied the ship of state” after taking over for a scandal-battled predecessor nearly two years ago, will be sworn in for her first full term Monday.
Ivey takes the oath of office during inauguration festivities at the Alabama Capitol.
She is the state’s second female governor and the first Republican woman elected to the position.
Ivey, 74, who had been lieutenant governor, automatically became governor 21 months ago when then-Gov. Robert Bentley suddenly resigned in the midst of an impeachment investigation partly centered on his relationship with an aide.
Ivey won a term in her own right after easily defeating Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox in the November election.
In her 2018 campaign Ivey largely focused on her brief record as governor and emphasized the state’s recovering economy and restoring trust to state government. She told voters she had “steadied the ship of state.”
She is expected to begin her second term with a number of initiatives and pressing issues before the state, including some that could be difficult political waters to navigate.
Ivey has been in discussions with legislative leaders about a possible gasoline tax increase to fund road and bridge construction.
The state has not had an increase in the statewide gasoline tax since 1992. Legislative leaders have said they are gauging the temperature of members about a possible increase.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh said last week that the governor wants “a reasonable increase in a fuel tax.” ”As you know, we haven’t had an increase since ’92. It’s been 26 years,” said Marsh, R-Anniston.
Prisons will remain a pressing issue for state officials as Alabama tries to comply with a federal judge’s order to improve “horrendously inadequate” mental health care in state prisons.
“The hiring of officers in order to comply with Judge Thompson’s order will be the key,” said Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster.
Ward said the construction of new prisons, or the renovation of existing facilities, will be have to be addressed at some point.
State Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, said she has been working with Ivey’s office on education issues, including an initiative to focus on improving reading ability of students in kindergarten through third grades.
“I see it as an enhanced version of the reading initiative,” Collins said.
The governor made children’s literacy a theme of her pre-inauguration activities, including hosting book drives.
The inauguration ceremony is at 10 a.m. and will be followed by a parade.