As Governor, I will propose the Alabama Education Lottery (AEL) which if passed by the Legislature would be a constitutional amendment to be voted on in November 2020 by the people of Alabama.
AEL will be a public corporation and will be grounded in transparency, accountability and the unbreakable principle that lottery proceeds will never supplant current and future funding from the Education Trust Fund. AEL's proceeds will be constitutionally protected ensuring that legislators never divert funding from our classrooms.
Based on conservative estimates, AEL will provide $300 million annually, after prizes and expenses, which will elevate and transform Alabama's schools and communities with the following initiatives:
The cost of higher education continues to rise, which is creating massive student loan debt, and making college virtually unaffordable for hard working Alabamians. Making matters worse, Alabama's greatest economic challenge is developing a knowledge based and technologically-skilled workforce that can compete both nationally and internationally. Understanding this, I will be recommending $125 million be allocated annually for scholarships and workforce readiness.
For too long, Alabamians have subsidized the cost of college for students in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. With AEL Scholarships, Alabamians who are pursuing workforce development training, associate degree or a bachelor's degree, will now have an affordable pathway to compete for the jobs of tomorrow. College scholarship recipients will be required to complete 24 hours annually of community service in Alabama.
As part of the AEL's goal of workforce readiness, $5 million annually, in scholarships and grants will be awarded to The Academy of Craft Training (Academy) and to registered apprenticeship programs that that meet national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL).
The Academy is a public/private partnership between the commercial construction industry and the State of Alabama Career and Technical K-12 Department. Today, only 250 students in Alabama are being served. AEL will work with industry to expand the Academy across the workforce regions. Achieving this will vastly expand the opportunities for high school juniors and seniors to receive workforce development training, from industry professionals, so they are prepared for entry level jobs in the areas of building construction, electrical, HVAC - Sheet Metal and Piping, Welding and Masonry.
To meet the demands of business, health care and industry, Alabama must expand its apprentice programs through partnerships with local unions, Apprenticeship Alabama, and other qualifying entities who meet USDOL guidelines. Apprenticeships create a skilled labor to meet the growing demands of our economy. Further, it provides Alabamians an opportunity to learn a trade, earn a paycheck and pave the way to a brighter future.