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STEM Education, Skilled Workforce Programs Popular Among State Budget Proposals

January 22, 2015

This week, governor’s in eight states released their budget proposals. Balanced budgets and fiscal austerity were undoubtedly emphasized by the governors, yet funding for STEM education and workforce development initiatives were increasingly popular.

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s education-heavy $7.3 billion biennial budget for FY 2016-17 includes considerable amounts of TBED funding, such as $10 million over the biennium for the Knowledge Fund. The Fund, which was created by AB 449 during the 2011 legislative session, provides grants that: establish technology outreach programs; recruit, hire, and retain researcher teams and faculty; construct research laboratories, facilities, and related equipment; and, provide matching funds for federal and private sector grants. Additional funding is also added to continue the Center of Excellence efforts to be a world leader in water technologies that focus on dealing with arid conditions.

To support STEM education and professional development, Gov. Sandoval introduced the Nevada Ready 21 Technology Program. Funded with $48.8 million over the biennium, the program provides grants to middle and high schools to pay for both devices and professional development, under the idea that every student should have access to skilled educators who value connected, personalized student-centered learning, and continuous access to personal and portable devices that are wirelessly connected to the Internet. The budget also allocates $8.3 million over the biennium to help establish a full-scale, four-year medical school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

The state also provides $5 million from the general fund over the biennium to create an Office of Science, Innovation and Technology that provides oversight for initiatives such as the state’s STEM Workforce grant programs and broadband mapping. In FY 2017, the state would provide $1.5 million to build a new headquarters for the state Department of Business and Industry (B&I), whose fiscal functions were centralized in 2011. The new building, which would house the 13 divisions of the department as well as several other offices, would create a one-stop shop for businesses, constituents, and customers in the Las Vegas area. 

With Gov. Peter Shumlin’s lean $1.5 billion general fund budget for FY 2016 focusing mainly on health care and education, the governor proposes raising taxes and reducing many programs in scope in an effort to bridge a $94 million budget gap. Despite this, some TBED relevant proposals are funded. Included are: increased funds for the EB-5 Regional Center program, which grants investors green card benefits but requires less investment and job creation requirements than the federal program; a partnership between businesses and Vermont Tech to create a free Associates Degree in Engineering Technology; and, $16.5 million for the Agriculture and ANR Lab in Randolph at Vermont Technical College.

Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget proposal recommends spending more than $15 billion in fiscal years 2016 and 2017, increasing taxes, and structurally reforming Medicaid, pensions, and the state’s K-12 educational finance formula.  The Innovation Growth Program, which operates the grant programs for university commercialization previously managed by the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC), is allotted $2.6 million over the biennium. For higher education the governor proposes $242,529 in FY 2015, and $179,284 in both FY 2016 and FY 2017, for Technology Innovation & Internship Grants, which fund equipment for student training and one-to-one matches to community colleges and technical institutions to support the workforce development of instructors. Wichita State University would receive $923,121 in FY 2015 to support the development of employees in the aviation industry.

As a way of balancing the FY 2016 budget and the $9.1 billion in general fund spending, Gov. Doug Ducey proposes decreases in funding to higher education by $75 million (10 percent) and the 10-college Maricopa County Community College District by more than 50 percent, with additional program and agency reductions and a dip into the state’s rainy day fund also helping to close the state’s $1.5 billion budget shortfall.  The FY 2016 budget also allocates the Arizona Commerce Authority $53 million to support the state’s economic development (including business incubation and entrepreneurship), with $225,600 for the group’s Arizona Innovation Accelerator Fund. For STEM and workforce programs at community colleges, the governor recommends $7.6 million for the fiscal year. 

Gov. Jay Nixon’s $8.6 billion FY 2016 budget focuses on higher education (a $12 million increase), and on public schools (an increase of $50 million in the funding formula), including an additional $2 million to expand Project Lead the Way, a STEM education program, to 350 additional elementary schools. The governor also proposes $5.6 million for the Missouri Technology Corporation to promote entrepreneurship and the growth of high-tech companies.

One of the main points of both the governor’s State of the State speech and the budget was the need for the state to pass legislation that increases general revenue. With this additional revenue, Gov. Nixon proposes $12.8 million in additional funds for the Missouri Technology Corporation to bring them to FY15 levels and a $10 million increase for the University of Missouri/Springfield Medical Partnership.

New Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts’ budget proposes $8.6 billion in general fund spending over the FY 2015-2017 biennium, with property tax relief as a focal point.  The governor proposes $500,000 for the Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative, a pilot project that funds a public-private partnership to create a new career and vocational training program preparing middle and high school students for skilled jobs in manufacturing and technology sectors. Higher education would also receive increased funding for the biennium: $559.1 million in FY 2015-16 and $575.9 million in FY 2016-17, a 3 percent annual increase for the University of Nebraska; $97.9 million in FY2015-16 and $100.8 million in FY2016-17, a 3 percent annual increase for State Colleges; and, $97.9 million in FY 2015-16 and $100.8 million in FY 2016-17, a 3 percent annual increase for Community Colleges.

New York
Read about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget here…


Arizona, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Vermontstate budget