Doug Smith For Governor of Alabama

Out with the Old, In with the New Blue

Doug Smith For Governor 2018

 

 

A History of Malinvestment in Alabama's Economy

Alabama has a history of under-investment in the physical and capital infrastructure necessary for the support of optimum economic growth, and the free market cannot supply a sufficient solution as much-needed capital is trapped within a closed or semi-closed loop, especially in times of economic downturn. As was the case during the Great Depression, when the market cannot escape on its own, government action is necessary. And a time such as now when we as a state have experienced sub-trend growth in the area of 1% a year after adjusting for inflation. Bob Riley had inherited a state growing at nearly 6%, so we know what Alabama is capable of producing.

 

It's Time to Revitalize Alabama's Economy and Infrastructure

After seeing the state’s economic machinery mangled and the budget bungled, I have grown weary of working behind the scenes with those who don’t know how the pieces fit and don’t seem willing to exert themselves to learn how. So I have decided after a great deal of prayerful guidance, to run for governor myself. I worked with Governor Lurleen Wallace and Governor Albert Brewer to get Alabama on the upward track. I did it once, and with your help, I'll do it again.

The "New Blue" Platform for Reform

RESTORE THE STATE'S ECONOMIC MACHINERY

Restore the Alabama Development Office to the Governor's Office as it was with PPBS. Change the name to the Department of Commerce if that is the pleasure of the Legislature, but re-establish the functions as originally intended which means ADO and ADECA should be merged into one with ADECA a Bureau of ADO and the Regional Planning and Economic Development Commissions and the ARC and Local Development Districts co-ordinated by ADECA. The Office of Intergovernmental Affairs should be set up again in Washington to start feeding Federal-grants-in-aid and lobbying for block grants. The Office of International Trade should be re-established to immediately help with farm, auto, coal and other exports.

The public is not in any mood for tax increases especially since the Republicans have effectively passed backdoor taxes by reappraising property each year and increasing fees on many state services. The solution to more revenue is diverting present expenditures for investments that generate revenue to afford needed things. That is where the NEW Bank for Small Businesses comes in. It will divert $5 million from the Bond Authority administered by the Regional Planning and Economic Development Commissions and use it to finance 200 small businesses to be supplemented by croudfunding funds from the Jobs Act. These small businesses will be among those that generate 80% of the new jobs. New employers and employees pay taxes and generate needed revenues.

Reactivate the State Comprehensive Development Plan

Put back in place the state comprehensive economic development and management plan. Unless a better plan has evolved, I recommend a pattern of hub and spoke with cities of 20,000 plus serving as hubs and existing roads supplemented by developmental highways serving as the spokes to outlying communities of at least 5,000 as a priority. The hubs are supplied with essential services and become the support center for an area with a radius of 25 to 35 miles.The developmental highways are like one half of a high-speed interstate highway.

EDUCATION: PRE-K AND COLLEGE

INTRODUCE MARIA MONTESSORI TO FIRST CLASS PRE-K

First Class Pre K is an Alabama Department of Education initiative to use Federal funds and other resources with state matching funds to provide an enriching first educational experience to mostly underprivileged children. Its curriculum appears to be nothing out of the ordinary, being a good quality kindergarten that shows promise in early testing and performance academically but tapers off in the latter elementary years. The best long rang results appear to be behavioral with increased school retention, graduation rates and prison avoidance.


I studied childhood development in graduate school and became immersed in the work of Dr. Maria Montessori who encountered the street urchins of the streets of Rome who were penniless, without family and utterly depraved and woefully uneducated. Doctor Montessori conceptualized that if a child's 6 senses (including the kinesthetic) could be sharpened and then introduced to problems age appropriate, the child could largely learn to teach itself and learn to love learning in the process. It worked.

I am a firm believer in the Montessori method since I sent my two girls through their school. One runs a factory manufacturing highly advanced, black-box electronics, and the other has two degrees in architecture and load-bearing interior architecture and has her own architectural and design firm. I am a very proud father and give much credit to their Montessori foundation.

I propose diverting one hundred First Class Pre K classes to Montessori classrooms as a pilot program to measure the outcome difference. I would skew the selection to deprived and underprivileged neighborhoods and compare the outcome with like neighborhoods. My belief is that we will achieve better, quicker results with the same resources, and the pilot progam will allow time to train additional Montessori teachers. As governor and an ex officio member of the Board of Education, I would attempt to get the Board to try such a pilot program.

TWO YEAR TECH COLLEGE DEBT FREE

The state should offer up to two years of tech college debt free to those who concentrate in computer applications, cyber security or auto manufacturing maintenance and whose family makes less than $50,000.00 per year. More than half of Alabama families qualify fully and many others will qualify for most expenses. The money would come from Work Force Development Grants, diverting administrative and professorial funds to the students to pay in tuition to the appropriate institution of their choice in a competitive process and Pell Grants to cover living expenses. Slots would be limited to available funds and excess, qualified applications would be chosen by lots. The program would once more make schools market places with the students buyers and the schools sellers.

When I am governor, I will guarantee a job to any of those two year graduates' applications program who want to finish their four year degree part time, if they have maintained a B average. We will locate them in a city with a college or university granting a four year degree in computer sciences. The candidate must agree to reside in the state for five years following graduation.

Other Reforms

PASS THE ETHICS BILL

Pass a real ethics bill with real teeth and no loopholes, preferably the one prepared
by the Attorney General and the Ethics Commission.

MERGE THE MENTAL HEALTH DEARTMENT WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH

Mental Health is discombobulated and needs serious help. The quickest way to achieve that is to merge Mental Health with the Department of Public Health with healthcare professionals in clinics in every county in the state. Public Health should be helped by legislation allowing Nurse Practitioners who have served a psychiatric rotation to prescribe mental health medications, including psychotropics under the direction of physicians within the Public Health Department. Mount Vernon Hospital should be reopened immediately, and negotiations undertaken with Cooper Greene in Jefferson County for psychiatric ward space.

RECOMMISSION ALL NATIONAL GUARD ARMORIES

President Donald Trump has proposed a budget of almost $700 billion to revitalize the military. That is up sharply from about $560 billion in the last budget. We learned when the armed forces became all volunteer in 1971 (VOLAR) following the Vietnam war that the National Guard and Reserve are the quickest and most cost efficient ways to rebuild a depleted military. Alabama should lobby Washington for 100% Federal funds to rebuild Alabama's Military Department and thereby rebuild the nation's.

We should use our Congressional resources in Congresswoman Martha Roby who sits on both the authorization committee of Armed Services and the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee and Senator Richard Shelby who sits on Appropriations and Rules and gets what he wants. We should ask for Support and Services Units specializing in Medical Support with some Field Support and some Air Force Mobile Hospital Units. The medical units can be used for OJT training to supplement county health clinics while providing realistic training for troops. We can do the preceding while maintaining the multi-purpose use of armories. They can be used for drill on weekends, cadres during the week and still support the local town as community centers.

STATE BUDGET: RETURN OF ZERO BASED BUDGETING AND THE PPBS SYSTEM

We should return the state to zero based budgeting, that is, each year we should start the budget process all over from scratch. I introduced it in the late 60s and then I carried it to the Jimmy Carter for President Campaign as his Field Budget Coordinator, and he took it to the White House with him. We should also return to the PPBS System and correct the STAR System to make an integrated, comprehensive management and planning system for state government.

START OF AN OFFICE OF INFORMATION AND OMBUDSMAN

Ordinary people have a difficult time interfacing with government. It is so enormous and complex they often do not know where to start to get the beast to respond. I propose to take part time state personnel chosen at first from volunteers to be information officers and ombudsmen to use existing state phone lines and e-mails and web sites to be regular points of information and to serve as first advocates for problems that citizens may have. It all can be done at no additional cost to the state and can evolve into a system that is a “One-Stop-Shop” for information and assistance at the federal, state, county and city levels.

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