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Tech Talkin’ Govs 2019, part 2: Broadband, education, climate change fixes on governors’ radars

January 17, 2019
By: Ellen Marrison

Reviewing another slate of governors’ state of the state and inaugural addresses reveals some recurring themes. With a focus on maintaining gains made since the Great Recession and increasing budgets, many governors are holding off on major new initiatives, but are proposing means to increase broadband access, diversify their economies, build renewable energy efforts, and increase their rainy day funds in case of an economic downturn. SSTI presents part 2 of our Tech Talkin’ Govs series, with coverage of governors in Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Follow along in the coming weeks as we continue to cover all of the governors’ addresses for 2019, bringing you excerpts of their words, promises and programs that touch on the innovation economy.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis reiterated his goal of reaching 100 percent renewable energy in the state by 2040 and desire to expand broadband:

“As Governor, my goal is to lead the statewide transition to a clean, sustainable, and growing economy. It is imperative for our climate, our security, our health, and our economic growth for all Coloradans. We will lead with policies that support, enable, and accelerate market investment. We will work with stakeholders across Colorado on outcomes-based approaches that promote innovation, and that deliver emissions reductions from all sources, reductions in consumer costs, and sustainable economic growth for communities across Colorado.”

“We also need to expand access to broadband. I’m eager to work with legislators to cut red tape that forces communities to go through costly and lengthy elections to build out their own broadband infrastructure. And at the same time, we’ll continue the good work of the Hickenlooper administration in supporting the creation of Strategic Regional Broadband plans to make high-speed internet access a reality across our entire state.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont took office Jan. 9 and delivered his first state of the state address, calling for collaboration and a “return to our inventive and entrepreneurial roots” and urged, “We cannot afford to let the next four years be defined by a fiscal crisis.”

“Our great state is strategically positioned between two super-cities. Connecticut needs to harness its prime location, its highly educated workforce, and its business community to create the Connecticut of tomorrow.

“To achieve this, I will be focusing on four areas:

“First, I will take the lead by investing in the first all-digital government….”

“Second, to attract millennials, top talent and leading companies, Connecticut will need to invest wisely in its urban centers - making them affordable and lively, where families want to live, work and play. That means great schools, safe streets and by making our cities the first with 5G in New England. The telecommunication companies are ready to start building - let's harness that excitement, and get Wi-Fi access into every rural town.”

“Third, none of this is possible if we don't have a 21st century transportation system. …”

“Fourth, Connecticut's economic revival cannot only be about creating opportunities for just some of our people. It must be an economy that works for everyone. We must bring our workforce into the 21st century, closely aligning it with job training, starting with STEM and coding in K-12, and access to higher education, vo-tech and apprenticeships that will result in access to good paying Connecticut jobs.”

“As one of the first Governors who comes from the business world, I will be hyper-focused on job creation. My primary objective is to get this economy growing again.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown delivered her first state of the state address of this term Jan. 14 after being inaugurated, and focused on challenges that continue to face the state:

“Oregon must continue to pursue solutions that will reduce harmful emissions while creating good jobs and building a clean energy economy. … I look forward to signing our clean energy jobs bill this session.”

“We need to make sure that every single one of our students is Future Ready. That means each one of them graduates from high school with a plan for their future and the skills to compete in a global economy. Higher education also needs to be more affordable and more accessible to Oregon families.”

“We agree that every single high school student must have the opportunity to participate in job training classes like CTE or hands-on learning.”

“As Superintendent of Schools, I will streamline my oversight of our education system and ensure greater accountability. The Chief Education Office will sunset next year and the majority of the functions will move directly into my office.”

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam delivered his state of the commonwealth address on Jan. 9 and heralded Virginia’s growing economy, including “investing record amounts in public schools and environmental protection….”

“… I know how young people leave our rural areas for jobs and don’t come back. That is why our administration has made it a priority to ensure that every region of Virginia is part of our economic success — so that people can build their lives in the place of their choosing.”

“Microsoft will inject significant capital investment to expand its datacenter campus in Mecklenburg County which will create more than 100 new jobs. ... This is a huge win for rural Virginia and we should all be proud.”

“If Virginia is going to succeed in the economy of the future, we must expand our advantage in higher education and continue to reform our approach to workforce training.

“That effort should begin with better aligning our four-year universities, community colleges and skills training programs with the needs of modern day students and the employers who are waiting to hire them. And we need to work even harder to make postsecondary education more affordable and accessible to all students.

“We’re working with the Virginia Community College System to reframe their programming, so that students can get the skills they need on the front end for 21st century jobs.

“Our training certificate programs and our higher education system need to work hand in hand. And they need to be affordable. … My budget would offer more tuition assistance, and requires our institutions to create tuition predictability plans.”

“… [O]ur administration is proud to partner with legislative leaders of both parties in proposing a Tech Talent Investment Fund, which will offer grants to our higher education institutions to help them provide more computer science degrees. Our goal is to produce up to 17,500 more bachelor’s degrees in computer science over the next 20 years.”

“Weeks ago, I shared an ambitious budget proposal to speed up our progress and achieve universal broadband access within the next few years.”

“I have shared my budget proposals to make historic investments in the protection of our environment and our water quality. These proposals will lead to cleaner water and air for all Virginians, and they will also position us to create the next generation of energy jobs in solar, wind and other emerging technologies.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said in his address that the state now has the largest surplus in its history, and he talked tax cuts and education:

“… [W]e've got to make West Virginia the first state … the first state to offer computer science class in every high school within our state.”

“I also want our Promise scholarship to be covered for vocational education.”

In his first state of the state, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon requested $21 million be added to the supplemental budget, some of which would be used to launch coal-based generation technology:

“…Wyoming…is suffering from a lack of a skilled workforce. … That is why I support a suite of proposals including Wyoming Works, which promise new ways for high school students and even adults to continue their technical education and this would also stand up career and technical education programs in our community colleges. I believe Wyoming should create a new Trust Fund under the Amendment A provision, with private industry’s support and a Wyoming match, would offer scholarships for career and technical education. I look forward to making Wyoming Works a reality.”

“…I am glad to support further funding for scholarships to retain our best and brightest students and to advance the effort to provide top-tier science programs and other strategic initiatives.”

“… In this supplemental budget, there is a call to further innovation in agriculture and in ranching through an enhanced UW program. …”

“There are promising new uses of coal that can provide advanced building materials and innovative new products. Some of these are being developed at UW and others by private industry. Wyoming is the nation’s leader in advancing carbon sequestration and has launched the Integrated Test Center, which is working on turning a byproduct like carbon dioxide into a valuable and marketable product. Here in Wyoming, we will continue to seek innovative solutions that support coal, address climate change, and grow our economy.”

“We can support this effort through the creation of an enhanced Energy Office. … This office can help speed up permitting for oil and gas drilling, better site renewable energy projects …”

“I am beginning a comprehensive review of how all of our economic development programs work and if they work together or apart. I believe we can improve our approaches and have already begun conversations with the Business Council and the chairmen of the ENDOW and ENGAGE councils.”

“I support the ongoing effort to improve access to broadband internet coverage throughout the state. …”

Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyomingtech talkin govs