Alabama’s 2019 legislative session was about much more than a heavily debated abortion bill being signed into law and a lottery bill dying in the House.

Because of a growing economy, state leaders were able to increase both the General Fund and Education Trust Fund budgets, giving state employees and teachers a pay raise.

As Kerry Rich, R-Albertville, said, “It’s not exactly the raise they deserve, but it’s better than a zero.”

Although the prison system’s woes weren’t considered a major topic of interest in the session, the General Fund budget included a $40 million increase for Alabama’s troubled prisons. Rich, as well as other legislators, anticipate a special session in the fall to further address the prison system’s issues.

Rich said putting everything concerning the prison system into a special session was a good idea because it puts all the focus toward arguably the state’s biggest problem.

And who can forget about the gas tax? While Gov. Kay Ivey signed it into law during a special session in March, its benefits are sure to impact the state in exponential ways.

In a column to The Reporter from March 15, Marshall County Economic Development Council President and CEO Matt Arnold reminded us that revenue from the tax could generate more than $300 million on an annual basis. That revenue would be put directly toward the replacement of old bridges and reconstruction of roads across Alabama.

Sure, it will eventually cost drivers an additional 10 cents per gallon. To have the state’s infrastructure updated and finally have a few smooth roads is going to be worth it. Plus, American Automobile Association Public Relations and Marketing Director Clay Ingram said motorists might not even realize when the initial 6-cent increase goes into effect Sept. 1.

“We’ll probably see a little bump [when it goes into effect], but it’s coming into play at a good time,” Ingram said. “Prices should be on a downward trend by September, and we could barely notice if price falls are great.”

Not everything intended to pass was able to make it past the governor’s desk, but the Legislature’s actions serve as an excellent starting point for getting Alabama back to the level it needs to be.

Our View On the Issue is an opinion of The Reporter’s editorial board that includes Publisher Kim Patterson and Managing Editor Taylor Beck.

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