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TBED Issues Considered in State Budgets

December 08, 2016

As new and supplemental state budgets are being proposed, SSTI is monitoring the proposals and will report on developments impacting prosperity through science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship. The first budgets released – from Colorado, Mississippi, Oregon and Wyoming – represent a mixed bag with new initiatives proposed in three states and program elimination in the fourth.



Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s proposed budget includes an overall 3.3 percent increase in spending but requires legislative changes to Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) rebates and reductions relative to inflation on K-12 education spending, in addition to other measures, to close a potential $500 million gap. Approximately $160 million in new funding is proposed for an Aerospace Engineering Science Building at University of Colorado-Boulder and an Institute for Biological and Translational Therapies at Colorado State University. An economic development policy proposed in the budget would require regions to incorporate succession plans into their state-supported strategic plans - a best practice known to be uncommon even among major corporations



Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is recommending $5.8 billion in general fund appropriations coupled with a 1.8 percent in reduction of appropriations for most agencies. The governor’s proposal also makes a concerted request to the state’s legislature to rein in spending and replenish the state’s rainy day fund. Gov. Bryant’s proposal also calls for significant cuts to activities that are considered not to be “core functions of government” including all state funding to Innovate Mississippi – a public private partnership to support innovation and tech-based economic development for the state of Mississippi. Gov. Bryant raises concerns about the return on investment that the state receives from its investment in Innovate Mississippi. He also recommends a 1.8 reduction from $19.8 million in FY17 to $19.4 million in FY18 for the Mississippi Development Authority.

While no line item commitment is made for the Mississippi Works Fund – a state funded workforce fund managed by the Community Colleges Board (CCB) – the governor touts the program’s success and proposes a $250,000 commitment to establish a furniture academy at two community colleges in Northeast Mississippi to support the growth of the state’s furniture manufacturing industry.



Gov. Kate Brown’s proposed budget recommendations aim to address the state’s $1.7 billion budget shortfall, while maintaining funding for critical areas she’s identified, such as public K-12 education and health care. With an eye toward a redesigned model for the Oregon Innovation Council, (Oregon Inc.), the governor proposes a continued investment of $17.5 million. She is also supporting a new initiative, the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center, by reallocating existing resources within Business Oregon. The Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center, which is designed to enhance the competitiveness of the metals manufacturing industry and serve as a model for future applied research and workforce training efforts, is a collaborative partnership that will address near-term manufacturing challenges and is set to launch in January 2017.



Faced with declining state revenues and budget challenges, Wyoming Gov. Matthew Mead’s supplemental budget for 2017-2018 contains relatively little new spending. Two programs receiving funding in the governor’s proposed budget are, however, particularly relevant to technology-based economic development. Gov. Mead proposes $2.5 million for the Economically Needed Diversification Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) program, which was announced in early November. The governor proposes $1 million to bring together key business leaders to help create a strategy for growing and diversifying Wyoming's economy around technology, complemented by $1.5 million for the state’s community colleges to respond to key workforce training needs as they are identified. The governor’s proposal also includes $500,000 for the University of Wyoming Science Initiative, which was developed in 2014 by Gov. Mead and the Wyoming legislature to improve the quality of science instruction and research at the school. The governor indicated that while he is not proposing additional cuts to the state’s general fund budget, there is a real crisis with regards to education funding, which has a different funding mechanism, according to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.


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