February 21, 2007
Governor Bob Riley is calling the Legislature into special session beginning Feb. 26 to help bring thousands of new jobs to Alabama and help the state get the lowest possible interest rate on money it will borrow for school construction.
"Alabama is pursuing major economic development projects that would create thousands of new jobs all across the state, but if we fail to take action immediately, we run the risk of losing these jobs to other states. I'm not willing to take that chance. No one should be willing to take that chance," said Governor Riley. "I want Alabama to do everything we must do to win these projects and bring these thousands of new jobs to our people. A successful special session can set the stage for a decade of economic growth. So I am calling on legislators from both parties to put aside their political and personal differences – just for five days – and work together for the common good of our state. When I spoke with the Senate Pro Tem, Senator Mitchem, last week, he said he would support our plan 100 percent."
Lieutenant Governor Jim Folsom, Jr., issued the following statement about the special session: "Alabama has proven to be one of the best places in the world to locate and operate a business. I am in full support of any effort that enables this state to be even more competitive in the pursuit of economic development opportunities."
House Speaker Seth Hammett issued a statement yesterday, which includes the following: "My recent industry-hunting trip to Europe with the governor, the lieutenant governor, and others convinces me that Alabama is in a great position to attract thousands of new jobs to our state in the immediate future. To win these economic development projects, the Alabama Legislature must move quickly to approve a financial incentive package that will allow our state to compete for these good paying jobs our people need and deserve."
A special session before the regular session begins is necessary because the Governor's proposals require amendments to the state constitution. Proposed amendments cannot go before voters until at least 90 days after the close of the legislative session in which they are passed by the Legislature. By approving the proposals in a special session ending on March 2, the people will get to vote on them in June. If there is no special session and the measures aren't passed until the regular session, they won't come before the voters until mid-September at the earliest because the regular session doesn't end until June 18. By then, Alabama likely will no longer be in contention for these economic development projects and the thousands of new jobs they would bring to our state.
"Several of the companies we are pursuing have told us they want to begin construction this summer," said Neal Wade, head of the Alabama Development Office, the state's economic development agency. "Waiting until the fall will probably kill our chances of bringing these jobs here. That's why time is of the essence."