Tech Talkin’ Govs, Part VI: FL defends economic approach, KY calls for outcomes-based education funding

March 09, 2017

The last of the state of the state addresses are trickling in, with Florida’s governor this week making the case for the state’s economic development organization and business incentives, which the Florida House of Representatives have targeted for elimination. Last month Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin called for education reform and highlighted the competition for state funds in workforce development. Ohio and Louisiana’s governors are scheduled to deliver their remarks in April.

Florida

Gov. Rick Scott is facing pressure to abolish Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership that acts as the state’s official economic development organization. Adding to the turbulence, Enterprise Florida’s president resigned just one day before Scott’s address citing a difference of opinion with the governor over the vision for the agency. Scott, who has two years left in office, recounted the difficult year the state faced including a terrorist attack on the Pulse Nightclub, two hurricanes, an airport shooting, and the Zika virus. He talked about strength and resilience, and made a plea for the continuance of programs and tax cuts that he says will bring jobs to the state. He heralded the fact that the state’s economy has grown by 22 percent since 2011, and available revenues exceed current expenses by $2.8 billion.

“We have to keep diversifying our economy and investing in programs that actually help businesses grow jobs here in Florida.

“It’s easy to throw out catch phrases like ‘picking winners and losers’ and ‘corporate welfare.’  By the way, I don’t like either of those things.  I doubt anyone in this chamber does.  But that’s not what we are doing.  We are competing with 49 other states and hundreds of countries for jobs.  … When we can help an idea become a business that employs people, there are only winners.

“I want to be very clear in acknowledging that both Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida have made mistakes along with their many successes over the years.  … But, you don’t just give up and shut down, and take your ball and go home.  You figure out what the problem is and fix it. 

“I am proud that this year that we are able to once again invest historic amounts of funding in K-12 education, state colleges and universities in our budget. We are also fighting to keep higher education affordable by holding the line on tuition for the fourth year in a row, freezing all fees at our state colleges and universities, and capping tuition at our state colleges.”

Kentucky

Gov. Matt Bevin delivered his state of the commonwealth on Feb. 8 and called for education reform, saying there is more work to be done. He spoke of the competition for state funds in workforce development, with more than $500 million being sought, while the state only had $100 million to disburse, $65 million of which is already allocated, and touched on other TBED topics. The governor did not use prepared remarks, but spoke from notes. The following excerpts are taken from a transcript of his live address.

“My vision is that Kentucky becomes the hub of excellence for engineering and manufacturing in America. That there is no state better positioned than us geographically, demographically with the logistics capability. … We will be the absolute center of excellence for engineering and manufacturing. That pendulum is swinging back to America now. We'll be at the epicenter of it.

“I will say this. Education and workforce development go hand in hand.

“…To invest in education where we can get good return on it as tax payers. ‘Interpretive this’ and ‘interdisciplinary that’ are not where the jobs of the 21st century are. They are just not. … So we're going to invest where we can get good return on that. This is something we're going to see from our universities as well. We're moving toward outcomes-based funding and that will be coming in the year ahead. We have got to start to be more competitive. 

“You will see legislation moving through these bodies to help us educate people better and prepare them for work in the 21st century. … We're going to move not only to outcomes-based funding; that's something every one of our university presidents signed off on. Some didn't like it. In fact, nobody fully liked it and that's why we know it is about as good as we're going to get. … We're now going to reward outcomes. We're going to reward those universities that invest in young people and allow those young people to become productive members of society.”

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