MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Three days after she became governor following the resignation of Robert Bentley, Governor Kay Ivey says it’s time for change in Alabama.
“A dark cloud has been hanging over our great state,” said Ivey.
Ivey spoke to a crowded room of reporters at a capitol office, an event called a “meet and greet” with the press. During the conference, she said her priorities will be honesty and transparency, remodeling the image of Alabama to the nation and to the world.
The Governor also went further, discussing her political philosophy and positions on some policy proposals, and ensuring people knew where her loyalties lay.
“This is the people’s business, y’all. It’s the public’s money, the people’s taxes,” Ivey said. “It’s not a personal agenda by any means.”
Ivey says she is continuing to review the administration, including the cabinet members put in place by former Governor Robert Bentley. She said a cabinet meeting is scheduled on Friday and added that while there would likely be some changes, none would be made hastily.
Ivey, a former teacher, says she had already spoken with education leaders about the importance of improving schools in the state. On health care, she says she’s open to reviewing all options but is currently against expanding Medicaid, just as Bentley was. When asked about the future of gambling in Alabama, she says it’s a complex issue.
“Just a pure simple lottery, that would probably have some merit, but there is no such thing as a pure simple lottery,” Ivey said. “Section 65 I have the constitution, I believe it is, forbids the lottery, so if we are going to have a lottery, we have got to repeal that, and if he repeal that, it opens the door for all types of gambling.”
Another big question hanging over the early days of the Ivey administration involves former attorney general and current senator, Luther Strange. Strange, who used to be Alabama’s Attorney General, was appointed by Bentley to take over the US Senate seat left vacant by Jeff Sessions when Sessions joined the Trump administration as US Attorney General.
That appointment has drawn criticism, with some claiming Strange received the job as payback for not fully investigating the criminal allegations against then-Governor Bentley. Those critics want the date for choosing an Alabama senator moved, from 2018, slated by Bentley, to sometime in the much nearer future.
However, Ivey says she isn’t sure moving the special election up is a good idea. She says it would cost $15 million from the state’s general fund, and said while she is concerned by the circumstances, she believes Strange to be an “honorable man.”
Ivey wouldn’t say if she planned to run for a four-year term as governor in 2017, only saying she has not ruled it out yet.