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Tech Talkin’ Govs 2018, part 6: AR, CT, ME, WY look to boost economies

February 15, 2018

SSTI’s Tech Talkin’ Govs feature continues as governors across the country are wrapping up 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 latest installment of Tech Talkin’ Govs, Arkansas is celebrating its low unemployment while Maine says it will focus on a commercialization bond and grow the workforce in part through a student debt relief program. Connecticut wants new goals for clean energy and Wyoming’s focus on economic diversification continues with the governor there calling for full funding for the ENDOW initiative.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson celebrated the state’s low unemployment and its economic growth.

 “Of course, education is key to a strong economy. And we’re taking a universal approach in preparing our students and future workforce. For one—we promised computer science in every Arkansas high school, and we kept that promise—with the rest of the nation watching and many trying to follow our lead. Arkansas was the first state to require all public high schools to teach computer science with funding to train our teachers. Today, more than 6,000 high school students—from the Delta to Northwest Arkansas and at schools everywhere in between–are enrolled in computer science courses.”

“And when they get to college, we want them to succeed, which is why we worked to change the way we fund our universities and colleges. In 2017, with your support, we did just that by passing the Higher Education Productivity Funding Formula. Now we base the funding of our 10 public universities and our 22 community colleges on how well students perform and progress rather than how many students show up on the first day of class. We want students who enroll in our universities to graduate or earn a certificate and move on to good careers with a good wage.”

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy gave his final state of the state address last week and told legislators that a proposed budget was already before them before quickly turning to the topic of fairness, but did give a nod to expanding the state’s role in green energy.

“We have to lower carbon emissions everywhere.  We have to once again make Connecticut a national leader in green energy. Together, let’s create a new, more aggressive target for clean air. Let’s mandate that by the year 2030, 75 percent of Connecticut energy is clean energy.”

Maine Gov. Paul LePage delivered his final state of the state address, but said there is still much to do in the state.

“We are the oldest state in the nation. We must attract young people to Maine. Our current position requires us to get serious about growing our state. Please join me in this effort. I will put forth bills this session to support investment in Maine and the development of our workforce. We have spent seven years fixing Maine’s balance sheet. Now is the time to make investments in our economy and for the Maine people.”

“I support a commercialization bond. Maine has always supported research-and-development bonds, hoping it would create jobs. Although R&D is critical, it is not enough to bring an innovative idea to market. Developing a patent that sits on a shelf is not a good return on investment for our taxpayers. We must focus on commercialization.”

“If our state is to survive and prosper, we need to grow our workforce and keep our economy growing. … For our economy to continue to grow, we must attract and retain young people. … We can invest in our young people by relieving some of the burden of student debt for those who want to stay in Maine or choose to relocate here and start their professional careers. … My initiative — the Maine Student Loan Debt Relief Program — calls for a $50 million bond to fund zero-interest student loans to keep Maine kids in school attending Maine colleges and universities. It also calls for a new, low-interest refinancing program to encourage graduates from outside Maine to work in our great state. In addition, I am asking the Legislature to simplify and increase the Opportunity Maine tax credit so employers can attract and retain the young workforce we need.”

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead delivered his last state of the state address, and acknowledged improvements that state has made including the University of Wyoming Engineering Education and Research Building; the Enzi STEM building, the Integrated Test Center (ITC); the High Bay Research Facility; the UW Science Initiative, and other initiatives in the TBED space.

“[W]e have grown the technology sector with a state 100 gigabit unified network that is double the national standards for connectivity to schools and is the envy of many states. We have not only connected fiber but also provided a connection of our many industry experts by starting and growing an annual technology summit and an annual broadband summit.”

“Funds have been appropriated for the Science Initiative. …[A]nd UW has now approved the final design for the Science Initiative Building.”

Mead also addressed the downturn in energy that has affected the state, and the state’s Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW), which he called an opportunity with an “objective to develop a 20-year economic strategy and then implement it over 20 years (from 2018 to 2038) in order to grow and expand our economy.”

“I note that workforce training dollars have been proposed by this body. That funding is needed to develop the skilled, educated and prepared workforce businesses are looking for. I support this funding. In the same vein, I support computer science, including coding, in all grades. Computer science is as important a classroom subject as any in this day and age. It’s a requisite for our students to become life-ready, workforce ready.” 

Arkansas, Connecticut, Maine, Wyomingtech talkin govs