Every Alabamian deserves access to high-quality healthcare at an affordable price. We cannot afford to go back to a time when the insurance companies discriminate based on a pre-existing condition or charge unreasonable premiums to a vulnerable population. We must also hold pharmaceutical companies responsible for keeping the price of their drugs to a reasonable level to ensure the public good is never sacrificed in exchange for larger corporate profits. A healthcare system that leaves large populations uninsured is not just morally reprehensible, it also is fundamentally flawed economic policy. By improving policy coverage and incentivizing new insurers to enter underserved markets, we can further reduce personal bankruptcies, medical costs and premiums, and provide more effective patient care for better health outcomes.
Healthcare accounts for approximately 17% of GDP, meaning hard-working Alabamians spent a significant portion of their income on maintaining or regaining their health. To improve our health outcomes and keep healthcare affordable, we must:
- Expand Medicaid to allow a larger percentage of our at-risk population to have health security and financial protection.
- Restore funding for mental health programs and facilities that have experienced devastating cuts over the past several years.
- Stabilize and save our smaller community health centers and rural hospitals.
Affordable health care is not an expense, it’s an investment in our society and future. We will experience better health outcomes and positively contribute to our overall economic output.
The building blocks of a stronger society start in the classroom. To be competitive in the global marketplace, Alabama must prioritize the education of our children and invest in tomorrow’s workforce, today. We must stop kicking the can down the road and put our full attention and focus on helping our young people learn and succeed. Specifically, we must:
- Increase the pay rate for teachers to attract and retain top-notch educators.
- Improve and maintain our public school facilities and educational materials.
- Empower innovative teachers who can find creative ways to help students learn
In the most recent U.S. News & World Report “Best States to Live In” edition, Alabama ranked 47th in quality of education. This is unacceptable and must be improved if our state is to reach our full potential. In addition, Alabama loses thousands of college educated young people every year who take jobs and choose to raise their children in other states, in part because of our education infrastructure at the primary level is not sufficient and is unequal between districts.
While we cannot change our ranking overnight, we can make significant improvement in a short period of time, but we must have the political courage to prioritize one of the most important components of the communities we serve.
Policymakers must accept that economics play a role in strengthening or weakening the family unit. Elected officials are tasked with providing the framework for how we keep real family values at the center of our priorities. This begins with giving families more opportunity to maintain a healthy balance between work and home. This includes access to quality, affordable healthcare, offering additional paid flex-time and leave for single and working parents, raising median household wages, further strengthening oversight to discourage and prosecute gender-based pay discrimination, and reigning in abusive practices that overwork salaried employees to the detriment of the family bond. The family values we all wish to achieve can only be realized through a combination of policy that allows for reasonable progress toward that objective and community responsibility that continues to keep focus on how we best raise our children to be productive, responsible citizens. Specifically, we must:
- Allow more flex-time for families caring for a disabled child or elderly parent.
- Raise the minimum wage to keep pace with inflation and cost of living.
- Pay women equal wages for equal work. No woman in today’s workforce should face the humiliation of being paid less for a job that they are as equally qualified as a man to hold.
The people of Alabama have lost confidence in their elected officials. The continued political scandals and government corruption have damaged the reputation of our state. We must be dedicated to restoring integrity and reasonable debate in government or risk creating an environment intolerable of new ideas that can take Alabama to greater heights. The people of Alabama and District 32 needs pragmatic leadership from our state senator. We must restore the state legislature to a place of high ideals and distinguished policy debate. We cannot afford to let our politicians divide us up into groups and subgroups for the sole purpose of winning elections and maintaining power.
We must protect our state’s information infrastructure, including voting and election processes, by upgrading our cybersecurity protocols and software to the highest possible level. This means keeping pace with the technology of today and limiting opportunities for hackers, rogue groups or nation states, and cyberterrorists to do potential harm. The events of the 2016 election cycle are but one example in a string of recent cyberattacks aimed at weakening our country. We need to encrypt sensitive government data to the highest possible level, help vital non-governmental organizations and utilities maintain adequate defenses, and assign more human resources to strengthening our cyber-monitoring efforts.
Gerrymandering is one of the central reasons behind the dysfunctional workings of our state and federal government. When district lines are drawn in such as a way as to give one party a distinct advantage by intentionally diluting the votes of the opposing party, incumbents worry less about being defeated in November and more worried about being defeated in their own party’s primary by somebody more ideologically driven than themselves. This results in a race to the extremes and an inability to compromise for the good of the people. One need not look anywhere other than Alabama’s district maps for good examples of this practice. Whether it’s racial, socio-economic, or partisan reasons, gerrymandering is not good for our political process and will not result in getting things done for the people of Alabama.
As your next state senator from District 32, I will be a champion for fairly drawn district lines and a healthy exchange of competitive ideas for the voters to hear. Our democracy is healthier when we allow more diverse opinions into the conversation that we have to shape policy.