Exec says he paid Hubbard to open doors, Alabama's infrastructure problem

May 31, 2016

The president of an education curriculum company says that he paid Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard $7,500 a month to open doors with legislative leaders across the country — but not in Alabama.

Edgenuity President Michael Humphrey testified that he thought Hubbard could get him meetings with legislative leaders in other states, given his background as a legislator and someone familiar with college sports.

Asked about his company's consulting contract with one of Hubbard's companies, Humphrey said the speaker did not work on issues in Alabama.

Prosecutors have accused Hubbard of using his positions as speaker and state Republican Party chairman to make money and solicit financial favors. Hubbard has maintained his innocence and said the transactions were legal.

Alabama’s roads and other infrastructure are in bad shape, and business leaders want to do something about it.

In their 2015 infrastructure report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers rated Alabama’s roads a D+. They say road travel has increased by around fifty percent since 1990, and funding for maintenance and repair hasn’t kept up. State bridges aren’t much better off.

Michael Johnson is the President and CEO of the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association. He says more investment in the state’s infrastructure would be good for business.

“Enhancing Alabama’s transportation system will boost the state’s economy and create jobs. When you do that, you’re improving the livelihoods and lifestyles of all your residents.”

Some lawmakers pushed to increase the state’s gasoline tax in order to fund road and infrastructure improvements. That measure failed in this year’s legislative session.

The city of Fairfield is still undergoing financial hardships after the closure of its Wal-Mart Supercenter in January.  This came after losing eleven hundred jobs after the U.S. Steel Works blast furnace shut down in Fairfield last year.

But not everyone has packed up.  Alan Jones owns an auto shop in downtown Fairfield.  He says as long as business is good, he’s sticking around…

“The way I was raised, I can go anywhere and make money anywhere.  But I’m here.  I own my property.  I have my own clientele.  I got people that come back regular(ly).  And it’s hard work but as far as you’ve got to have business, I’ve got it.”

City officials say they have a plan to bring one hundred businesses to Fairfield in the next few years.  Officials say thirty-eight businesses have pledged to relocate to Fairfield.