Byrne: Economy, education & ethics top focus

Published 10:38 pm Thursday, January 14, 2010

Former state senator and immediate past chancellor of Alabama’s two-year college system Bradley Byrne, who is running for governor as a Republican, visited with Clanton leaders and businesses owners Thursday.

Byrne visited several locations, including the County Courthouse, Clanton City Hall, 97.7 The Peach, banks and other businesses, including The Clanton Advertiser.

Byrne spoke about his campaign for governor, which focuses on the “Three E’s” of ethics reform, education and economic development.

The Mobile native talked about his plan to reward businesses that hire new employees.

“People are very concerned about the economy…and how we grow our economy and get people to work,” said Byrne.

One way to do that is to not put any new taxes on businesses and give tax credits for companies who add people to the payroll, Byrne said.

He also talked about education, including anticipated budget cuts, charter schools and tenure reform.

He said the state would have to “live within our means,” and make sure items are prioritized in the budget.

Byrne supports establishing charter schools, something Gov, Bob Riley is trying to accomplish this legislative session.

He said while charter schools won’t be used in every school district, they provide an alternative for students in struggling schools.

“I want us to have the option to offer charter schools,” he said.

Byrne said he wants to see Alabama’s dropout rate reduced.

“There is not much of a future for people without a high school diploma,” he said.

Byrne said far too many kids are reaching high school without being able to read.

He wants to extend the Alabama Reading Initiative through the eighth grade.

He said the state’s tenure system for teachers must be changed too by giving teachers pay raises based on merit.

“Every child in this state deserves a quality education and teacher,” said

Byrne is also pushing for ethics reform.

A few reforms he outlined would do away with double dipping, eliminate pass through pork appropriations and ban PAC-to-PAC transfers. Other measures would require lobbyists to register with the state and record anything they give to lawmakers.

Byrne is against gaming and bingo and said he would speak out against a state lottery if it were put on November’s ballot.