SSTI Digest

The latest reporting and analysis on breakthroughs in technology-based economic development research and issues that matter most to you. To receive the SSTI Weekly Digest via email, sign up here.


Geography: Puerto Rico

States dealt blow with pandemic

In general, the effect of the pandemic on states’ budgets due to the wave of business, retail, and commerce shutdowns, as well as other reduced economic activity across the nation, is not entirely known, or too early to forecast; however, a number of states are beginning to experience the initial impacts of a substantial downturn. With several states having already enacted their 2020-21 budgets, special sessions are expected later this year to deal with declining revenues. Others ended sessions early without a new fiscal year spending plan in place.

Policy Academy teams meet to strengthen manufacturers

As part of an official kick-off for a yearlong Policy Academy, interdisciplinary teams from around the country met in Washington, D.C., last week to advance policies that strengthen their manufacturing sectors. The four state participants – Kentucky, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and Utah – are comprised of leadership from governor’s offices, state economic development departments, Manufacturing Extension Partnership centers, manufacturing trade associations, and other manufacturing centers. In addition to facilitated working groups, the event featured speakers from Deloitte, The National Center for the Middle Market, NIST, MForesight, New America, and the National Governors’ Association.

States’ fiscal picture improves with growing economy

The ability of states to deliver the services promised to its residents relies on their fiscal soundness. With most states beginning their fiscal year in July, SSTI has reviewed the current fiscal standing for each state and here presents a snapshot of our findings.

Most states ended their fiscal year with a surplus and continue to recover from the Great Recession, with a growing economy and job gains. However, they face continuing demands on their budgets, with expanded Medicaid payments and the growing opioid crisis confronting nearly every state. Such decisions affect the state’s ability to fund innovation efforts, from the amount of support available for higher education and STEM programs, to funding for entrepreneurship, and forging public private partnerships to strengthen innovation programming that the private sector cannot fully support.

Our analysis found that some states that rely on the energy sector to fund their spending priorities continue to struggle, while others are already factoring in anticipated revenues as a result of new Supreme Court rulings involving gaming and online sales tax collections.

Puerto Rico Gov Joins List of Govs Using Executive Orders to Boost Renewable Energy

Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla recently issued three executive orders aimed at advancing the island's renewable energy industry. The orders will grant priority approvals to renewable energy projects and introduce two new councils that will coordinate energy initiatives. Gov. Garcia Padilla joins a growing list of governors who have used executive orders to quickly implement energy policies without going to the legislature.

Voters Reject Tax Increases, Back Bonds for Higher Ed

While election night's main focus was on the presidential race, the importance of ballot measures for states and metros is growing as public services and budgets are being severely trimmed. A recent article in The New Republic reports on a new trend where states are embracing ballot measures as a potential source of dedicated funds for targeted investments in regional economic growth and development.

TBED and the 2012 Ballots

Voters in 37 states will decide on more than 170 ballot measures this year, many of which are related to tech-based economic development (TBED). Tax measures seem to be dominating ballots this year, with questions relating to both decreases and increases for sales, property and income taxes. Several states are counting on voters to agree to temporary increases to help fill budget deficits and ensure steady funding for education.

Gubernatorial Candidates Make the Case for TBED

On November 6, in addition to the presidential election, eleven state and two territorial gubernatorial contests will be decided. Seven of these races (Delaware, Missouri, North Dakota, Puerto Rico, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia) include a sitting governor running for re-election, while the remaining six (American Samoa, Indiana, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Washington) are open races.

Puerto Rico Taskforce Releases Broadband Strategic Plan

This week, the Puerto Rico Broadband Taskforce and Connect Puerto Rico, a subsidiary of Connect Nation, unveiled a comprehensive strategy to expand access to broadband services and improve the quality of Puerto Rico's high speed data infrastructure. Currently, about 14 percent of Puerto Ricans lack access to any broadband services, compared to 5 percent of U.S. households. Data transfer speeds also are much lower than in the U.S., stifling business development, investment and innovation.

People

The Puerto Rico Senate recently confirmed Jorge Silva-Puras as the new executive director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company. He previously served as secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce.