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Tech Talkin’ Govs 2020: FL, GA, IN, IA, KS, KY, MO, RI, WA present diverse efforts to grow economies

January 23, 2020
By: Ellen Marrison

Governors’ focus on initiatives particular to their state in this latest round of state of the state addresses. As SSTI continues to review the speeches for new innovation proposals, we found states continuing to focus on education with more attention on teacher salaries and efforts extending all the way down to pre-K with a recognition that the future workforce is influenced by many factors. Florida is also hoping to grow its aerospace and manufacturing sectors, while Kentucky’s new governor is looking to ag tech and sports betting as new revenue sources. Occupational licensing reform is also a recurring theme in many states this year, along with clean energy and renewable fuels.


Gov. Ron DeSantis attributed the in-migration of residents from other states to the lack of a state income tax in Florida, and said he will continue that policy with the expectation that further growth will ensue.

“We have the good fortune to be attracting investment and business activity and have good potential for further growth in aerospace, financial services, health care and manufacturing.”

“We have a good [occupational licensing] reform bill pending before the Legislature that made it to the one yard line last year. Let’s punch it in the end zone this year.”

“I am recommending we take a bold step of setting a minimum salary for public school teachers at $47,500, bringing Florida from the bottom half of states to number 2 in the nation.  This will make it easier to get talented college graduates to enter the profession and will help us retain many of the good teachers we have now.”


Gov. Brian Kemp plans to continue fully funding public education and boost teacher salaries:

“In my budget, I have included a $2,000 pay raise for all public school educators. This raise will enhance retention rates, boost recruitment numbers, and improve educational outcomes in schools throughout Georgia.”


Gov. Eric Holcomb touted the state’s growing economy and hopes to increase the federal defense investment in Indiana:

“In addition, I've set a goal to triple federal defense investment in our state and tasked Secretary Schellinger, his defense guru Clif Tooley and Brigadier General Dale Lyles at the National Guard to partner with other military, university, nonprofit and private stakeholders to implement our strategic plan to do just that. With Crane, Muscatatuck and Atterbury, no state is better positioned to develop the future of warfare in areas like radar, sonar, hypersonics and drone technology.”

“By 2022, I want 500 returning citizens annually to have validated job opportunities waiting for them before they walk out of prison, and 3,000 more formerly incarcerated individuals in jobs within five months of their release. That's why I've proposed to redesign the way we provide education credit to inmates so they have more incentive to holistically engage in addiction recovery treatment, mental health management, and vocational development.”


Gov. Kim Reynolds said she will introduce a bill called Invest in Iowa Act in the coming weeks that will, among other things, cut taxes:

“… I’m proposing to cut income taxes by an additional 10 percent for almost every Iowan, with lower-income Iowans receiving as much as a 25 percent cut next year.”

“… [T]oday I’m calling for an additional $2 million for the Renewable Fuels Infrastructure Program, as well as modernizing and expanding the E-15 Plus Promotion Tax Credit. This will support the sale of E-15 year round and drive domestic demand for our homegrown renewable fuels.” 

“Using technology to bring cutting edge health care into every community is no longer a dream. Telehealth is reality today but we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface. This year, my budget includes additional funding to expand the use of these services to underserved Iowans.”

“… Today, I’m requesting that we appropriate an additional $15 million and adjust our state match so we can continue to leverage private and federal funding to build out broadband to every part of Iowa, making us the most connected state in the nation.”

“… I’m calling on the Legislature to take computer science statewide and ensure every student, at every level, has access to this new basic skill.”

“One of the best ways for students to learn is through hands-on experience, which is why we’re making Iowa a leader in work-based learning. … [T]his year [we] will be adding $1 million for work-based learning coordinators to be covered by operational-sharing agreements.”

“The budget I’m presenting to you today makes another historic investment, with over $103 million in new funding so that Iowa schools can maintain the best teachers and classrooms in the world.”

“Future Ready Iowa is working, which is why I’m proposing that we expand the Last Dollar Scholarship and the Employer Innovation Fund by $2.8 million each, bringing the total investment to over $20 million.”

“… I’m opening the Employer Innovation Fund to employers and community organizations that have ideas to expand and create childcare options in their communities.”

“First, we need to adopt universal licensing recognition. Those who go through a rigorous application process in another state, and meet certain conditions in our state, should be able to have that license recognized here. Let’s encourage these skilled workers to move to Iowa.” 


Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly described the state’s turnaround, saying that when she took office in 2019 the state “had generally become a national model for what not to do,” to today being recognized by CNBC as “the ‘comeback state of 2019.’”

“Housing shortages, affordable childcare, revitalizing Main Street corridors, protecting rural hospitals, expanding rural broadband — these are all concerns that weigh heavily on the minds of Kansans. With the right mix of state support and local ingenuity, I am confident that the Office of Rural Prosperity will serve as an invaluable partner for Kansas communities to sustain and enhance our state’s rural heritage.”

“… Kansas is an export state, and we cannot compete in a global economy without strong international trading partners. We must breathe new life into our efforts to increase exports and compel international companies to choose Kansas.”

“I asked the Council [on Education] to re-evaluate every corner of our educational ecosystem — early childhood, K-12, higher education and workforce development — and to bring those players to the same table. I also engaged business and industry, labor, and other stakeholders so we may cultivate the workforce that Kansas will need to compete in the years ahead. It is time to align all of these moving parts so that we can put Kansas at the forefront of growth and innovation. The work of this council will be essential in helping us shape the future of Kansas education, the Kansas workforce, and Kansas as a state.”

“By partnering with businesses to train these inmates in badly-needed job skills, we can both help the private sector fill their workforce shortage and set our incarcerated population on a path to success once they leave the corrections system.”


Gov. Andy Beshear delivered his first state of the commonwealth address on Jan. 14, calling for a spirit of bipartisan cooperation and noting that “we have to take on the big challenges, not do what is politically safe.”

“Last week, in what may have seen like a small step to some, the lieutenant governor and I announced that we would waive the GED testing fee for anyone who couldn’t afford it. Already, we are seeing major response from those that realize a high school degree or GED can change their life and the next generations of their family.”

“That is why it is my mission, and it should be our mission, to work to transform our economy to become an international leader in the industries of the future, starting with agriculture technology.”

“… We have already begun exciting talks on how to build our agri-tech infrastructure with everyone ranging from our Council on Postsecondary Education President Aaron Thompson to an official delegation from the Netherlands. To attract the jobs of the future, we must invest in three areas: infrastructure, workforce training, and most importantly, education.”

“And it means coming together to chart our future to ensure every area of the state has high-speed internet.”

“This body has spoken to the need of more engineers and more nurses in this state. But how can that happen if we lack full-time science and math teachers. We’ve figured out how to give tax incentives to corporations — so I know we can figure out how to pay a living wage to the men and women who get up at the crack of dawn every morning to go open their classrooms, stay up late grading papers, and give everything they can so our Kentucky children have every opportunity.”

“A commitment to breaking cycles of poverty must also include higher education. In this state, we need more of every option. More graduates with a four-year college degree and more workers with technical degrees and certifications for skilled trades. To do that, we must end our historic cuts to our universities and community colleges. So stay tuned, because the education first budget that I am constructing will be designed to provide us the opportunity to truly change lives moving forward. And it will embrace higher education.”

“Representative Adam Koenig has filed a sports betting bill. I fully support it, and we should pass it. But that shouldn’t be the end of the conversation. Because now, all of our neighboring states — most all of them Republican led — have embraced expanded gaming, while we are being left behind.”


Gov. Michael Parson reflected that the state’s workforce development program he proposed a year earlier “has caught the attention of the rest of the country.”

“We have reached second in the nation for apprenticeships, and we fully intend to keep that momentum going.”

“… [M]y call this legislative session is to propose initiatives aimed at building stronger communities … improving education and workforce development … revitalizing our infrastructure … and making government more accountable.”

“Missouri recently received a $33.5 million dollar preschool development grant aimed at creating a more effective, high quality early learning system. With this funding, we have the opportunity to strengthen our early childhood offerings and better prepare Missouri children for success … which is crucial to the development of a strong workforce. In addition to early childhood education, we will also focus on increasing opportunities for high-demand training at the high school level. We need to ensure our students understand the many opportunities out there, whether it be going into the workforce, the military, a community college, technical school, or a four-year degree.”

“… [W]e are seeking $750,000 dollars to certify approximately 12,000 new high school students as work-ready through the Work Keys program. ... In addition, we are proposing greater access to virtual education for high school students, as well as home school students. We will also be working to expand opportunities through Jobs for America’s Graduates, a program that helps youth graduate from high school and transition to the workforce. And, for our college-bound students, we have secured a total of $5.3 million dollars to increase Bright Flight and A+ Scholarship funding. We are also proposing another $19 million dollars for the MoExcels Workforce Initiative. And, we can do all of this while increasing school transportation funding … and still fully funding our Foundation Formula.”

“And, another simple way we can improve government and promote Missouri is by offering license reciprocity to the spouses of the men and women who proudly serve our country in the United States military. … Allowing license reciprocity would not only help us attract more military families, but also fill critical jobs in our economy.”

Rhode Island

Gov. Gina Raimondo called for legislators to “to embrace innovation in all that we do, from the jobs we bring here to the way we run our government.”

“Tonight, I’m announcing a bond to develop new industrial sites all across Rhode Island. It’s a proven success. So let’s do more of it.”

“Tonight, I’m proposing expanding the Real Jobs RI initiative. It has a proven track record of success. …”

“This week I’ll sign an executive order to make Rhode Island the first state in America to be powered by 100% renewable energy by the end of this decade.”

“Schools in every community have to do better, so tonight, I am announcing an additional $30 million to support students and teachers in every community. In every district across the state, we’ll invest in high-quality curricula and ensure more students have access to advanced classes in high school. …”

“Economic experts agree the most important thing we can do to strengthen our economy is to have a more educated workforce. We can’t go backward. Let’s make the Promise Scholarship permanent and cement affordable higher education and job training into the very foundation of our economy.”

“Since I’ve been governor, we’ve raised the minimum wage three times. Our hardest working Rhode Islanders deserve a raise. Let’s do it again this year. At the same time, let’s expand the earned income tax credit so hardworking Rhode Islanders can keep more of their money in their pockets. …”

“… Nearly every other state uses line item veto to reduce waste in government spending and corruption – and to ensure that tax dollars help all citizens, not just those with connections. Let’s restore Rhode Islanders’ confidence in government and put line item veto on the ballot.”


Gov. Jay Inslee touted the growth in workforce development initiatives and said he expects more than 100,000 students this coming school year to benefit from the Washington College Grant. He also called for more work to be done in clean energy:

“There’s another big step we can take this year: establishing a clean fuel standard.”

“There is an extremely effective tool available to us to reduce transportation emissions, and that’s the clean fuel standard. We need what the rest of the West Coast has already built: a clean fuel standard that calls upon the oil and gas industry to give Washington consumers cleaner fuels.”

Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Rhode Island, Washingtontech talkin govs