Daily News Digest – January 10, 2018

 

Good morning! This is your Alabama Daily News digest for Wednesday, January 10, 2018. 

1. BOOM: Alabama wins $1.6 billion Mazda-Toyota plant

Photo credit: Hal Yeager
  • We won! Word leaked out ahead of schedule Wednesday that Alabama has been selected for the Mazda-Toyota joint U.S. auto-manufacturing venture, a $1.6 billion assembly plant that is expected to bring more than 4,000 direct jobs.
  • Read the complete Associated Press report from Detroit HERE
  • The plant is to be located at the Limestone County megasite.
  • The official announcement will be made later this morning in Montgomery by Gov. Kay Ivey, Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield and a host of public officials and economic developers who were involved.
  • AL.com’s Lee Roop has a look back at the road to landing the Toyota-Mazda plant that is worth a read for perspective on the project.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • This is about as big as an economic development win gets. 4,000 direct, good-paying jobs. Thousands more indirect jobs through myriad suppliers. A big shot in the arm for Alabama’s image and psyche after years of wondering if the best days were behind us.
  • The News-Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina had sources saying Alabama’s superior “supply chain logistics” made a big difference in the site selection. That’s a big feather-in-the-cap for our economic and workforce development teams.
  • It’s a huge win for Gov. Kay Ivey. Major economic development decisions like these take place over the course of several months and require significant time and attention from the governor.
  • Go back and think about all that Ivey has traversed during her eight months as governor – assuming office amid the Bentley scandal, the state school board / superintendent mess, the Roy Moore debacle, go down the list. Now, look at it through the lens of Ivey knowing that one of the biggest economic development opportunities in the state’s history was on her shoulders.
  • There’s no question today’s announcement will be extremely gratifying for Ivey and her team, particularly as her bid for election to a term in her own right gets serious.

2. SOTS

3. Full budget picture begins to emerge 

  • Before the pomp and circumstance of the governor’s primetime speech in the Capitol, details of the state’s budget situation continued to emerge across the street in the State House.
  • Lawmakers heard from the state’s lead financial number crunchers on Tuesday. For the Executive Branch, the Alabama Department of Finance, which presented the governor’s constitutionally-required budget proposal. For the Legislative Branch, the Legislative Fiscal Office, which presented its own estimates for revenue growth.
  • The two offices are not always in agreement about estimated revenue growth, but this year they seem to at least agree that the state’s budget situation is not nearly as dire as in year’s past.
  • The question is whether revenue growth and congressional action on children’s healthcare will allow Alabama to afford goodies like teacher/state employee pay raises and expansions to programs like First Class Pre-K.
  • Brian Lyman’s thorough report in The Montgomery Advertiser is well worth your time for a full understanding of what was said during the budget hearings and what to expect going forward.

4. Trump taking on Republican sacred cows

  • While the Alabama political universe turned its attention toward Montgomery Tuesday, in Washington, President Trump was giving arguably his most interesting and consequential policy discussion so far.
  • At a gathering with top lawmakers from both parties to negotiate an agreement on how to deal with the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Trump laid his cards on the table saying he wants to sign a “bill of love” and that it was up to members of both parties to get a deal done.
  • As CNN’s Chris Cillizza notes, these White House press “sprays” usually only involve a few minutes for the media to get the president and a handful of other principals on the record to say what a productive meeting they are about to have. This time, Trump talked for more than an hour, basically negotiating the details of DACA and a more comprehensive immigration package on camera, while also hinting at other policy issues like Congressional earmarks (more on earmarks another day).
  • I’ve noted before that a Trump-brokered deal on immigration (path-to-residency in exchange for a wall, tougher enforcement policies, etc) could be a once-in-a generation accomplishment. It has a Nixon-to-China feel to it; something perhaps only Trump, who was largely elected on his tough immigration stance, is uniquely positioned to do.
  • While some Republicans might complain that Trump is giving up leverage to the Democrats on the immigration negotiations, I don’t see it that way. He is communicating to the country that he wants a deal and daring Democrats to overreach in their demands.
  • That’s my optimistic view, at least. There are plenty of glass-half-empty takes on it if you are looking for a rain cloud this morning.

5. Potpourri

(Note, all these headlines are available in web form here.)

AL.COM – Kimber manufacturing plans $38 million Troy facility.

AL.COM – New cyber, engineering magnet school coming to Huntsville.

AL.COM – Sessions’ Justice Department pursuing federal death penalty cases.

AL.COM – Gov. Kay Ivey says state of the state is steady, sound.

AL.COM – Jefferson County to commit $30 million to downtown stadium.

AL.COM – Child care center bill introduced on short first day of session.

AL.COM – Doug Jones committee assignments include Health, Homeland Security.

AL.COM – Baldwin County joining wave of painkiller litigation.

AL.COM – Breakaway school districts should be curbed, Alabama lawmaker says.

AL.COM – 10 issues to watch during 2018 Alabama legislative session.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – In post-Moore Alabama, Young Alabama hopes to be a springboard for young leaders.

ALABAMA POLITICAL REPORTER – Columnist Josh Moon:  Alabama the state could learn a thing or two from Alabama the football team.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Local small business owner, farmer running for Alabama State Senate.

YELLOWHAMMER NEWS – Governor Ivey has a nice wish list for the Alabama Legislature.

DECATUR DAILY – The Decatur Daily:  It’s halftime in Alabama.

DECATUR DAILY – A look at the issues before lawmakers in 2018.

FLORENCE TIMES DAILY – Local sheriffs named in lawsuit concerning inmate meals.

ANNISTON STAR – Number of students in Alabama’s schools is declining.

ANNISTON STAR – The Anniston Star:  The Sabanization at the University of Alabama.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Gov. Kay Ivey calls for employee pay raises, rural investments in State of State.

MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER – Contributor John McMillan:  Rural communities are key to Alabama’s future.

OPELIKA-AUBURN NEWS – Alabama’s Thompson to be sworn in Friday as TVA board member.

DOTHAN EAGLE – Seven area sheriffs named in lawsuit seeking information on jail food profits.

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