My fellow Alabamians - to those of you who are here and are joining us here on the beautiful grounds of our State Capitol, and to those who across the state are watching - thank you for being a part of today's historic ceremony.
To the hundreds - if not thousands - of folks who could not be here today but who have faithfully kept me and my administration at the forefront of your prayers since I became governor in April 2017, I thank you!
Over the course of 20 months, I truly have felt your prayers and your love. Both have made a difference, and I am grateful for your prayers, that you have been so faithful to share.
The scripture reminds us in Psalm 118 Verse 24, "This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it."
Indeed, today is a day to rejoice for all of Alabama!
It is also a day to begin writing a new chapter in the narrative of our great state. After all, this is an exciting time later this year, because Alabama will celebrate our 200th year of statehood. [applause]
On this very site, many men and only one other woman have stood right here to be given the ultimate honor of a lifetime - the opportunity to be administered the oath of office after having been duly elected governor of our great state by the people of Alabama.
Like most of my predecessors, my pathway to this spot was certainly not predetermined or even likely. In fact, when I was growing up in my hometown of Camden, little girls just simply didn't dream about being elected governor of the great state.
Much of my success, any that I have enjoyed, is due to my parents, the late Barbara and Nettles Ivey. They taught me the values of hard work and the importance of living within your means. It was their unwavering love, support and confidence - through the years - that has provided me the foundation which allows me to stand before you today.
Alabama is a state where dreams do come true. And here in Alabama, anything is possible.
It goes without saying, my dear friends, but I am truly honored and humbled to lead this great state. But I have not made this journey alone.
To the good people of Alabama, I say thank you.
As your governor, I am first and foremost a public servant, accountable to the nearly five million people who call Alabama there home. I work for those who voted for me as well as those who did not. And upon taking the oath of office, I have solemnly promised to uphold the office to which I have been elected with dignity and integrity while working hard to keep Alabama growing. [applause]
To our men and women in the military, we thank you for your service to our nation that allows us to enjoy the freedoms we cherish so deeply. I want to thank every Alabamian in uniform, as well as their families who share in their service.
And to our veterans, past and present: much like my dad who served bravely in World War II, we are forever grateful for your sacrifice, for your love of country and commitment to freedom.
I certainly want to thank the inaugural committee for their efforts to make this historic event possible. Thank you to the committee chairs, Dr. Cathy Randall and Jimmy Rane, my two longtime friends. We thank them for their leadership not just to this event, but to their communities and to their state.
I also want to recognize - and thank - my cabinet and staff for their hard work and long hours. With their help, we have steadied the ship of state and put people back to work. Because of their determination, I believe we are well-positioned to continue moving Alabama forward to some of our brightest days. [applause]
On this Inauguration Day, I want to take a special moment to recognize those in attendance who have previously held the same constitutional offices to which I have been elected to serve.
Former Governors Bentley, Riley, Siegelman and Folsom are with us today. [applause]
We are also very honored to have former Lieutenant Governors Windom and McMillan, as well as Governors Siegelman and Folsom who also served as lieutenant governors.
Alabama is certainly better off because of the many years of service of these distinguished leaders. Join me in thanking them. [applause]
Also on the platform today are our current constitutional officers, Lieutenant Governor Ainsworth, Attorney General Marshall, Auditor Ziegler, Secretary of State John Merrill, Treasurer McMillan and Agriculture Commissioner Pate. Also on the platform, we recognize Public Service Commissioners Jeremy Oden and Chip Beeker. The people of Alabama thank all of you for your commitment to public service and for your dedication to them.
Also joining me are members of our State Board of Education sworn in today. Board Members Dr. McCarty, Dr. Richardson and board member West, as well as Dr. Reynolds who could not be here today. I sure look forward to continue working closely with you to ensure all Alabama students have the opportunity for a beneficial education, which puts them on a path to success.
Additionally, I'd like to thank the chief justice and associate justices of the Alabama Supreme Court for participating in today's ceremony.
A very special Alabamian and my longtime friend from Wilcox County is here today - former United States senator and United States attorney, the Honorable Jeff Sessions! [applause]
Jeff, I am thrilled that you are on stage with me.
If you're from Wilcox County, you just never know where you might up.
It is always good to welcome home - and publicly thank - Alabama's outstanding congressional delegation, led by Senior Senator Richard Shelby, and represented today by Congressman Byrne and Congresswoman Roby. [applause]
Time and time and again Alabama's delegation chooses to put the people of Alabama and our state ahead of partisan interests. So to each of the members of our congressional delegation, we offer our heartfelt thanks for your great service.
And speaking of our congressional delegation, my administration has already been hard at work with local and state leaders in all 67 counties to begin the tedious but important task of making sure we get a accurate head count for the upcoming census.
This upcoming census – it isn't just about the possibility of losing a seat in Congress; it's much more important than that.
It's also about protecting our hard-working taxpayers’ federal funding that our taxpayers send to Washington, and they are so faithful to return our fair share.
As this work kicks into high gear, it is all our responsibility to make certain that every citizen is counted in the 2020 census; that's the only way to make certain that "Alabama counts" when it matters most. [applause]
I want to extend my profound thanks to the members of the Alabama Legislature, and I salute them for their genuine commitment to public service and to the great state of Alabama.
With the first session of our legislatures in a new quadrennium beginning in just a few weeks, I am truly encouraged by the men and women who represent us in both the Alabama House of Representatives and the Alabama State Senate.
We have 27 new members in the Alabama House of Representatives led by Speaker Mac McCutcheon; we also welcome 12 new senators in the Alabama Senate led by President Pro Tem Del Marsh.
Our two legislative minority leaders are also on the platform with us: Senator Bobby Singleton and Representative Anthony Daniels.
Friends, all of our leaders - from both parties - all 140 men and women of the Alabama Legislature - serve as partners in our quest to keep Alabama working and growing. [applause]
As governor, one of my proudest accomplishments has been to establish a strong bipartisan relationship with members of the the Alabama Legislature in both bodies.
In order for our state to work properly, we must work closely together, and I’m committed to working closely with the members of the Alabama House and the Alabama Senate.
To the members of the Alabama Legislature, you have a real opportunity to make your mark in Alabama history as one of the most impactful legislatures ever. And I look forward to working closely with each of you a we work together to address our state's most pressing problems.
Eight years ago, when I was sworn in as lieutenant governor, I used my inaugural address to call on the legislature to end proration forever. I am proud to say that call was quickly answered. Today, we budget with a more balanced and predictable model that has improved the way we fund state government.
The good news on this Inauguration Day is that our budgets are strong and our financial health is good. [applause]
More Alabamians are working today than ever before in our state’s history, and our economy continues to grow and prosper.
With “Strong Start, Strong Finish,” we are making our largest investment ever in education. We are setting high standards for student learning, and our efforts are paying off as we provide our students with the tools they need to grow and succeed.
Ladies and gentlemen, we can all be grateful for this progress. But make no mistake about it. We're not done yet; we've only just begun. [applause]
We know we cannot rest on our laurels or recent successes; instead, we must keep reaching for new heights, taking Alabama to the next level so that we can continue to compete in the 21st century global economy.
The people of Alabama will always be our greatest resource, as well as the fabric that holds our great state together, both when times are good as well as in the more challenging of times.
Alabama's dedicated and skilled workforce has helped ensure that our "Made in Alabama" brand is one of excellence and top-quality, and recognized the world over.
Just like you, I am proud to be an Alabamian. [applause]
Fifty years ago, one of my childhood heroes, Governor Lurleen Wallace, was sworn in as the first woman governor of the state of Alabama and only the second in our nation's history.
Although she is not with us in person, her spirit, her life and her legacy still lives. In her memory, I've requested that an empty chair be placed on the platform. We are honored to have her daughter Peggy, my friend, here with us representing the Wallace family. Peggy, thank you so much. [applause]
In her inaugural address, Governor Wallace called on the Legislature to, among other things, provide greater funding to build and improve our roads.
Interestingly, on January 21, 1919, when Governor Kilby was sworn in to office, during the year we celebrated our centennial, he, too, called for a commitment to improve roads and bridges.
I am very hopeful that 50 or 100 years from now, governors will not have to include requests to improve our infrastructure. [applause] We need to improve our infrastructure and work together to make it happen.
Today, I follow in Governor Lurleen Wallace's footsteps in many ways and I make the same ask to the members of the Alabama Legislature.
After all, if we want to compete in a 21st century global economy, we must improve our infrastructure in our roads, our bridges and our ports.
Improving our infrastructure is more than an investment in roads and bridges; it's an investment in economic development, in public safety and in local communities.
It has been nearly three decades since we last made any changes to our current funding, and the challenge has grown with the passing of time. Now is the time to increase our investment in infrastructure - now is the time to solve this problem! [applause]
Members of the legislature and people of Alabama, we will have only one chance to do it. It’s been almost three decades since we’ve made any change. We’ve got to do it now and get it right.
Let's face it. The challenges that we confront today did not just arrive on our doorstep; likewise, they will not go away in weeks or even months.
But if we work on them together - Democrats and Republicans, conservatives, liberals – if we work together, then today's challenges can be looked upon as tomorrow's accomplishments.
Much like our roads and bridges, our prison system, too, has been sorely neglected for decades. The poor conditions of our prisons create a risk to public safety and are placing a heavy burden on taxpayers.
The status of our corrections system is an Alabama problem that must be solved by an Alabama solution, and I plan to do so. [applause] We are revitalizing our statewide corrections system by replacing costly, at-risk prison facilities. This effort will ensure that Alabama stays committed to statewide prison reform, and we will be announcing detail of these plans in the coming days.
As we stand in the shadow of our state capitol – if we had some sun, we’ve have some shadows [laughter] – but as we stand here in front of the capitol and look down historic Dexter Avenue, we must never forget where we've come from nor how much progress we've made.
Thankfully, the Alabama we live in today - the Alabama we love today - has changed with the times and, in most cases, it’s been for the better.
But we would be less than honest with each other if we did not acknowledge that change has not come easily. Standing here on Dexter, we are reminded of two different chapters in Alabama history: a time when the Civil War raged and 90 years later when the Civil Rights movement was inspired.
It is important for all of us to acknowledge our past; after all, it was just down the street at the pulpit that the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Junior taught us to confront struggles with honesty, courage and love.
Having learned from the past, let us now turn our focus to the future, which is filled with so much hope and so much opportunity.
Alabama successfully helped launch the program that took man to the moon and returned him back safely. And today, we continue to build the next generation of rockets that will take men - and women - to Mars and deep space and return them home safely.
It is hard to believe that 25 years ago, we didn’t produce a single automobile in Alabama. Today, we are one of the largest automotive-producing states with soon five global automotive companies will be producing here in Alabama. [applause]
And only six years ago, we did not build a single airplane in Alabama. Yet, today, we are assembling one of the world's best-selling single-aisle aircraft with a major groundbreaking happening later this week.
Just as Huntsville is recognized around the globe for its work in space exploration and discovery, I predict in just a few short years, Mobile will be one of the top four cities in the world where large, commercial aircraft are assembled. And we will reach this in less than a decade. [applause]
Over the next four years, we will build upon these advancements, attracting even more world-class companies and creating more good-paying jobs for our people We will also be challenged with the task of ensuring that our workforce is prepared and equipped not just for the challenges of today but for the jobs of tomorrow.
It can be real easy to focus only on the issues that need the most immediate attention, like roads and prisons and education, but in reality, as we dig in and begin to address those issues, I’m just very hopeful that we will be inspired to tackle other pressing challenges, such as health care, rural economic development, access to broadband and other important issues.
After all, these matters can be seen either as a challenge or an opportunity; I prefer to look at them as opportunities worthy of a state whose good people are fortunate enough to call Alabama their home. [applause]
So today, I stand before you filled with optimism and eager with anticipation for the best of what's yet to come. More good-paying jobs. Better education. Roads that are the envy of the nation. But one thing is for sure. We cannot do this work alone.
The campaign season is over. Elections are behind us. Today, all Alabamians - regardless of party affiliation - have the chance to stand together, united, to help build a brighter future and guarantee that our best days are still in front of us.
And we need everyone to help. We need teachers, farmers, job creators, health care providers, law enforcement and the media.
The great composer Johann Sebastian Bach was once asked why he composed music. Without hesitation, he said, "For the glory of God and the good of mankind." My hope is that when I leave this office, it can be said that this state is in better shape than when I began. I, too, will serve "for the glory of God and the good of mankind." [applause]
With your good help - and God's amazing grace - the next four years will not only mark the beginning of our third century, they'll be the foundation for our best years to come.
May God continue to bless each of you and the great state of Alabama! [applause]