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Tech Talkin’ Govs 2018: AZ, FL, IA, ID, MS, NY, VT present state of the state addresses

January 11, 2018

SSTI’s Tech Talkin’ Govs feature returns as governors across the country roll out their state of the state addresses. We review each speech for comments relevant to the innovation economy, and bring you their words directly from their addresses. In this first installment, we present excerpts from governors in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, New York and Vermont.

With the seat up for election in 36 states this fall, many governors are delivering what may be their last state of the state address (see last week’s story on the definite turnover in 17 states and another 19 eligible for reelection). Some governors are more specific in their addresses regarding the innovation economy, such as Idaho where its governor is seeking additional money for college and career advising, an additional $5 million for the Opportunity Scholarship program, and a new position to coordinate the work of all its higher education institutions. Iowa’s governor is calling on the legislature to pass the Future Ready Iowa Act and proposes a new scholarship for Iowans who decide to pursue up to a two-year degree in a high-demand field as well as more money for apprenticeships. Taxes are taking a large part of the discussion for many governors. For instance, the Florida governor is hoping for a constitutional amendment to make it more difficult for future legislators to raise taxes, while in New York, the governor says the state will challenge the federal tax code.

SSTI is also reviewing all state budget proposals as they come in and will present findings on the innovation economy. Click here for this week’s story, and check back in coming weeks as we continue our coverage on both the state of the state addresses and budget proposals.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey plans to release his budget proposal tomorrow, said “…[W]e will maintain our investments in targeted programs that are working, and making a difference for Arizona families: All-day kindergarten. Career and technical education. Computer science and coding. Reducing waitlists. Closing the achievement gap. High-speed internet to rural schools. And new school buses. In fact, 80 percent of our new budget priorities you’ll see Friday will be for public education.”

Later in his address, Ducey heralded the state’s growth, saying “…Silicon Valley companies are flocking to Arizona. … We want Arizona to be the entrepreneurial Capitol [sic] of the U.S. – the place where new technologies come to flourish. And we are well on our way.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott delivered his final state of the state address and said he wants “2018 to be the year that Florida voters pass a constitutional amendment that makes it harder for politicians to raise taxes. My proposal would require two-thirds of the legislature to vote on a tax increase for it to become law.” Scott also is proposing a tax cut package.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter delivered his 12th and final state of the state address and focused on education. “I also am seeking an additional $5 million a year for college and career advising. ... Whether for college or technical training, improving student and parent access to information about careers and postsecondary opportunities is an essential step in providing for Idaho’s future workforce needs.”

“The [Higher Education] Task Force …  recommendations focus on dramatically changing the way our system works to make it more integrated, consolidated and student-centric. Therefore, my budget request includes funding for the State Board of Education to hire an Executive Officer to coordinate the work of all our higher education institutions. The Executive Officer also will manage a system-wide consolidation of higher education support operations and the Board’s continuing policy functions. … That includes creating a statewide digital campus to better keep pace with continuing change in what we need our higher education system to deliver.”

“… I am requesting an additional $5 million for the Opportunity Scholarship program, … My Executive Budget also calls for dedicating a portion of that $5 million to providing Adult Completion Scholarships. …  It’s about creating the workforce that Idaho employers need. It’s about closing our skills gap by bringing students with some college credits back to one of our certificate, associate’s or bachelor’s degree programs to finish what they started.”

“My budget reflects the Task Force recommendations that we invest in expanding capacity at our postsecondary technical schools, … I’m also calling for development of more online CTE classes, and increased support for our six regional Workforce Training Centers. … I will introduce legislation this session codifying changes to the structure and authority of the Workforce Development Council and how it invests in one of the most crucial elements of Idaho’s continuing economic growth.”

“And let’s not forget the INL’s growing collaboration with our universities, as well as the Department of Energy’s STEM education efforts at Idaho schools. And there are more great things to come from the INL and the Battelle Energy Alliance, which just won a new five-year management contract that will ensure welcome stability in lab operations. Coming soon is the next stage in developing small modular reactor technology that could be the future of nuclear energy.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa delivered her first “Condition of the State” address on Tuesday in Des Moines and, while calling the condition of the state strong, also said, that it’s “no secret we are working through difficult times with our state budget.”  She focused largely on changes to the tax system, education and the workforce.

“In today’s changing economy, whether our kids are bound for a four-year college, a community college, trade school, apprenticeship, military service, or headed into the workforce, we must prepare them for a productive and successful life. That’s why we have invested over $37 million in STEM through public private partnerships.”

 “Today, just over half of our workforce has training or education beyond high school. We’re going to change that. By 2025, our goal is for 70 percent of Iowa workers to have the skills they need to land a great job. To reach that goal, we will partner with the private sector to rapidly expand education and training opportunities for more than 127,000 working men and women.

“It’s a big challenge, but we're going to get there. And we're starting now. Today I am calling on the legislature to pass the Future Ready Iowa Act. It’s a bill that creates opportunities for Iowans of all ages and experiences. Opportunities to get the skills they need for a rewarding career.

 “[W]e’ll create a new scholarship for Iowans who decide to pursue up to a two-year degree in a high-demand field, like nursing, advanced manufacturing, or computer science. These scholarships will pay for the students’ remaining tuition and will be available to Iowans of any age, whether they just graduated from high school or are looking to change careers. We’ll also create a new grant program for people who started a four-year degree but never finished.”

“I also want to increase our support for apprenticeships, that’s why I have included an additional $1 million in my budget to expand Iowa’s current apprenticeship program to help more small- and mid-sized employers offer these life-changing opportunities.

“Finally, working with the private sector, we will create the Iowa Employer Innovation Fund, which will revolutionize the way we think about workforce training. Instead of government deciding which programs are needed, decisions will be made at the local level by the businesses and job creators. They’ll invest their money, in the training programs that best fit their needs, and the State innovation fund will provide matching dollars.”

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant delivered his seventh state of the state address and blasted negative headlines about the state, choosing to focus on accomplishments, including jobs expansion and “billions of dollars of foreign and domestic investment in Mississippi industry.  I am also encouraged to report that existing industry continues to grow.”

 “I will ask you to return funding for Jobs for Mississippi Graduates to 2016 levels to help increase graduation rates to the national average and build our workforce.  Over 90 percent of these at-risk students graduate, and 80 percent of those find jobs or go on to higher education.”

“We can do more to help our community colleges bridge the skills gap that exists today.  There is little doubt our employers consider an educated and skilled workforce as their top priority.  To meet this demand, we have targeted certain industries and emphasized training for these needs. … I will ask you to create the Mississippi Works Scholarship Fund to provide more opportunity for community college students who qualify for targeted workforce training.”

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was in Albany to deliver his state of the state address on Jan. 3, where he proposed new initiatives for the innovation economy in New York, including clean energy and education, and also focused on the federal tax policy, saying the state will challenge the recent tax bill as unconstitutional.

“We call an end to any investment in fossil fuel related activities in the pension fund and we’re going to work with Comptroller Tom DiNapoli because the future of the environment, the future of the economy and the future of our children is all in clean technology and we should put our money where our mouth is. … This year, I’m proud to announce that we will be putting out two RFPs for at least 800 megawatts in offshore wind power. Enough wind power to power 400,000 New York State households with clean energy.”

 “While the federal government is making college less affordable, we must expand our Excelsior Free College Program that helps children of our anxious middle class and tells every child in New York, their dreams can be realized and their future can be brighter. That if they get into college, they will not be denied because they can’t afford it because they are children of the family of New York, rich or poor, we will pay their tuition.” 

“And in the same spirit, we must include our young new immigrants and we must pass the Dream Act this year.”

Vermont Governor Phil Scott emphasized fiscal responsibility and pledged to keep his forthcoming budget proposal based on real data, noting that if solutions are not found, the state faces a “significant statewide property tax increase.” He also pledged to transform the K-12 system to “invest much more in early care and learning, technical education, workforce readiness training, and higher education without raising the price tag on Vermonters.”

Scott noted that workers are aging out of the workforce at an unsustainable pace for the state, saying, “Reversing these trends should be the top priority of every elected official, regardless of party or political beliefs.”

“Whether employees are needed for a business to grow or just to keep its doors open, there’s a common theme here: We need more workers. We cannot afford to ignore this any longer.”

“[T]he fact is, until we’re able to increase the size of our workforce and grow the economy, we will not have the revenue to meet current or future needs.”

“My administration is developing a workforce expansion plan that looks at how we educate and place our students, train and retrain to create more opportunities, and how we recruit more families and graduating students to live and work here. A good place to start is in recruiting from a pool of talented, committed workers already here in our state: our National Guard and retired, full-time service members. … That’s why I’m proposing a package to level the playing field by offering tuition-free college in Vermont, for those who commit to serve in our National Guard.”

“Access to post-secondary training and retraining is important for all Vermonters, and my budget address will outline a plan to expand Adult Technical Education and other proposals to better serve the current needs of workers and our businesses. But we also must do more to reach workers – specifically younger workers and entrepreneurs – who currently live elsewhere, but would like to live and raise their family in the safest and healthiest state in the country. That’s why in my budget address I’ll also propose a bold, sophisticated campaign to identify and persuade working age individuals, families and entrepreneurs to relocate to Vermont. This program will use state-of-the-art targeting, plus direct outreach to individuals and businesses to increase the number of workers. And, with a self-sustaining funding model with measurable results, the return on investment will be tracked and reported to me and to the Legislature.”

“Looking ahead we must continue to help startups grow and businesses thrive, so they can increase wages, create new jobs and help generate revenue organically. That’s why, in my budget I will propose flexible ways to support small businesses and other pro-growth initiatives and investments.”

Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, New York, Vermonttech talkin govs