BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A wide-ranging conversation with Governor Robert Bentley.
He stopped by CBS42 to talk about the state lottery, getting Alabamians back to work, a controversial gun bill and his even divorce.
Front and center in the conversation was his proposed pay raise for Alabama teachers.
“In our budget we put a 2 percent pay raise and they can put it wherever they wish, but we felt it was very important to reward our teachers and support personnel with a pay raise, and we did that but we also put a pay raise in for our state employees because they haven’t had one since 2008,” said Bentley.
Bentley also mentioned he still hasn’t taken a paycheck, as Alabama’s unemployment rate is still at 6.2 percent.
“I will say this, we have more people working today than we’ve had since 2008 and I’m very proud of that, every year, we have increased the number of people working in the state,” said Bentley.
As more people return to work, African Americans in Alabama are still at double digit unemployment, lagging behind their white counterparts. Bentley said that it is a problem in certain areas of the state, and that is why he is concentrating on the 55 poorest areas and rural areas of the state.
Gaming is also an issue coming before the legislature in 2016, and when asked about his stance, Bentley said he believes in people’s right to vote on an issue.
“It would be a stream of funding if we dedicated it primarily to the general fund, where it’s needed the most,” said Bentley.
When asked about a bill that would allow Alabamians to carry a gun in their vehicles without a permit, Bentley said he is “a strong proponent of the second amendment right and I don’t think the government or any individual has the right to infringe upon our constitutional right to carry and own arms.”
Governor Bentley highlighted the improvement in Alabama’s graduation rate.
The governor said we’ve gone from 72 percent to 89 percent in the past four years. He added that’s the largest gain than any other state.