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Tech Talkin’ Govs 2023: Governors’ innovation vision from their annual addresses

January 12, 2023
By: Ellen Marrison

After a busy election season that saw gubernatorial elections in 36 states, newly elected and re-elected governors are beginning to deliver their annual State of the State addresses, kicking off new programs and reviewing the conditions of their states. SSTI reviews the speeches every year and covers news of new developments and initiatives the governors have highlighted as they relate to the innovation economy. New programs are laid out here in the governors own words as excerpts from their addresses. In these first addresses, there is heavy emphasis on workforce and education among all governors; water issues for Western governors; and, clean energy. Scroll through the story to find updates as more addresses are delivered.

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, in her first State of the State address on Jan. 9, 2023, focused on education and the state’s water supply. “With the release of my budget on Friday, you will see historic investment in schools to address capital needs ….”

On higher education, Hobbs said, “we’re expanding the Arizona Promise Scholarship Program, which last year made college more affordable for over 4,000 families, by including funding capacity for an additional 10,000 students who will now have an opportunity to pursue a college degree but otherwise would have been held back by the associated costs. 

“But we’re not stopping there. In line with the will of Arizona’s voters in passing Proposition 308 this past November, my budget allocates $40 million to create the Promise for DREAMers Scholarship Program to cover all students, regardless of immigration status.”

“… [M]y administration has heard loud and clear that re-establishing the Governor’s Energy Office is a priority for communities across the state. In response, we will relaunch this entity as the Governor’s Office of Resiliency, which will focus on water, energy, and land use solutions. This office will help coordinate efforts with the many departments, tribal governments, universities, organizations, and others involved in this effort.”

“Next, my administration will issue an executive order to launch the Governor’s Water Policy Council to modernize and expand the Arizona Groundwater Management Act.”

Idaho Gov. Brad Little’s State of the State on Jan. 9 was one that mentioned water, a theme from several governors this year, as well as education.

“I am very proud to announce my budget provides access to a scholarship of $8,500 starting next year to graduating high school students in Idaho to attend an Idaho university, community college, career technical or workforce training program of their choice. … The ‘Idaho Launch’ scholarship will be the single largest investment in career technical and workforce education in state history.”

“Now I am proposing more investments in water quantity and water quality infrastructure to not only reduce the burden on local property taxpayers but also to secure abundant clean water for years to come.”

Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb’s State of the State on Jan. 10 focused on “three sets of big goals” and said they could be achieved because of revenue and population growth and responsible budgets.

“Now, to do this, and capitalize on the industries of the future that are looking for their new homes somewhere in America – like semiconductors and electric vehicles – means we must formalize the economic development tools you provided us in the last session and establish them in the budget.”

“That includes finishing I-69 next year, connecting Evansville to Indianapolis three years ahead of schedule, double-tracking the South Shore rail line in northwest Indiana, and connecting homes, and schools, and businesses via broadband internet – even on our most remote terrain.”

“So, I’m asking the legislature for another $500 million to launch READI 2.0 – to lock in more transformational projects. And while READI [the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative] is our secret weapon to attract more talent in our rural, suburban and urban communities, it’s irrefutable that we must do more to prepare and retain our homegrown talent, too. …  I’m asking the legislature to support a $184 million increase in higher education funding, and support the Commission for Higher Education’s proposal to reward our world-class universities for keeping their graduates in careers in our state.”

“Another pathway to brain gain is enrolling more first-generation, and low-income minority college-goers, which is why we should support Martin University’s mission.

“And we can easily ensure thousands more students have their college opportunity paid by automatically enrolling all financially eligible students in the immensely successful 21st Century Scholarship Program, once and for all!

“Finally, but no less importantly, we must further invest in adult learning and workforce training in a variety of tailored ways – including increased support for our Next Level Jobs program, expanded access to the Excel Centers, a pilot program to incentivize recipients of Unemployment Insurance to obtain their high school diplomas – and then on to a job!”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, State of the State, Jan. 10: “We must recognize that in the new, post-pandemic business environment, not every new job created for a New Jerseyan is going to be housed in a physical office in New Jersey. For many New Jerseyans, working remotely is here to stay. So, let’s take this moment to focus on incenting jobs in New Jersey, wherever they are, regardless of whether they are in an office building in Newark or at a kitchen table in Cherry Hill.”

“We are primed to be a leader on the East Coast in offshore-wind and a national leader in component manufacturing and logistics for the wind industry as a whole.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, in her State of the State, Jan. 10 talked about weaning the state from fossil fuels saying, “… I'm proposing a plan to end the sale of any new fossil-fuel-powered heating equipment by 2030. And I'm calling for all new construction to be zero-emission, starting in 2025 for small buildings and 2028 for large buildings.”

“… [W]e’re pursuing a nation-leading Cap-and-Invest program to cap greenhouse emissions, invest in the clean energy economy, and prioritize the health and economic well-being of our families.”

The governor also pointed to the 275-page book containing “147 thoughtful policy proposals” for a full picture of her upcoming agenda.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, State of the State, Jan. 3: “… [W]e’ve proposed investing $500 million between this biennium and next to capitalize the Clean Sustainable Energy Loan Fund. This infusion, along with $50 million for grants through the fund, will support clean energy projects such as carbon capture, which represents a path forward for baseload coal power through innovation over regulation.”

The governor announced that the Federal Aviation Administration granted initial approval to allow one of the state’s private sector partners to fly a drone, beyond visual line of sight, using Vantis, an air traffic control network for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations, and highlighted work the state is doing to lead the sector. “To build on this momentum, our budget proposes a $30 million investment in Vantis and $7 million for the Grand Sky UAS business and aviation park in Grand Forks.”

“As national and state enrollment trends decrease, it’s vital we provide our institutions the resources to respond to workforce needs more rapidly. We urge the legislature to advance the proposed $10 million innovation workforce grant to provide the resources necessary to quickly create programs that respond to those needs. Our research universities also are teaming up with 11 universities in five states (ND, SD, WY, MT and ID) on the Regional Technology and Innovation Alliance. Our administration will work with this alliance and our regional governors to ensure we succeed in our pursuit of federal research grants to advance the next generation of technology and reduce our nation’s reliance on foreign adversaries for critical technology such as microchips.”

“… [O]pen and unfilled jobs are a reminder of our need to make good on our commitment to provide the appropriated $88 million in matching funds for private sector investment for the designated career and technical centers across the state, so construction can begin this spring. Even if that means advancing funds from the Bank of North Dakota until federal funding is released. It means following through on the recommendations of the Workforce Development Council and providing $20 million for a competitive Regional Workforce Impact Grant program. It means investing in child care to make it easier for North Dakotans, especially young families, to participate in the workforce. It means investing in automation by expanding the successful automation tax credit, incenting industries to adopt automation through matching grants, and investing in a workforce transition training program to retrain and upskill citizens pursuing new opportunities through automation. And we can double our investment in the Native American Scholarship program, building on private sector efforts to expand educational and employment opportunities for tribal members across North Dakota.”

“As part of our comprehensive workforce initiative, the Department of Commerce has refreshed and expanded its “Find the Good Life in North Dakota” workforce attraction campaign. This marketing campaign drives those interested in relocating into a pipeline that connects job seekers with community champions.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in his Jan. 10 State of the State talked of shifting the state’s policies in clean energy to implementation and investment. “We need more capacity to site and permit clean energy projects in a timely manner, and we need to bolster our transmission infrastructure to reliably deliver clean energy throughout the state. We also need to expand our research and development capacity. … The CCA [Climate Commitment Act] will provide an estimated $1.7 billion that we will use for projects to drive down emissions, create jobs and make communities healthier.”

This story was updated Jan. 19 with the following additions:

Climate change, water rights, housing, education and taxes are all themes running through the governors’ State of the State addresses this year. This week’s update includes initiatives that could affect the innovation economy from governors in Colorado, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis in his Jan. 17 State of the State noted the importance of water to the state’s economy and emphasized clean energy and workforce initiatives.

“For every dollar the state invested in Water Plan grants last year, we got four dollars back. In the last fiscal year, we awarded more than $23 million in grants that supported nearly $100 million in projects, and we’re hoping to once again position Colorado to punch above our weight and pull down major investments from the federal government. … But the most important thing we can do for water security is protect our waterways and rights. Hotter, drier conditions have strained our resources in a time when demand continues to grow. Our rivers and streams aren’t just life sources for Colorado, but for the entire American West. We must continue to fight for our rights and lead the way to a sustainable future.”

“And I’m proud to propose $120 million annually in new, clean energy tax credits. With this tax relief and incentives, we can improve our air quality, accelerate innovation, and make more rapid progress towards our goals, while saving people money at the pump and on their utility bills, and increasing access to clean, low-cost transportation options.”

“We are also focused on continued development of clean energy technologies of the future like geothermal and hydrogen. As Chair of the bipartisan Western Governors Association I am championing geothermal energy through our ‘Heat Beneath our Feet’ initiative. And I’m excited that my budget request provides funding for Colorado Mesa University to expand campus-wide geothermal systems, with a goal to become the first university in America to be fully powered by geothermal. And under the leadership of Will Toor at the Energy Office, our administration is also leading a multi-state consortium with Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico to gain additional federal investment as a hydrogen hub.”

“I look forward to working with the General Assembly to make Colorado a place where geothermal, hydrogen, and carbon capture technologies can and will succeed. While we do our part to improve air quality and reduce pollution, we are also preparing our state for the hotter, drier climate that we are experiencing.”

“Let’s ensure that every student has access to career-connected learning while they are in high school and let’s reward those schools that are doing more to help their students succeed in the workforce and in life! Whether it’s dual and concurrent enrollment, career and technical education, work-based learning and apprenticeship, or even receiving an industry certification or associate’s degree.

“I’m proposing we expand Care Forward Colorado to include free training for other in-demand fields in the public and private sector like construction, firefighting, law enforcement, nursing, and early childhood education. In addition, we know that the number of Coloradans pursuing postsecondary education or training right out of high school has been declining. To address this challenge, I am proposing a new scholarship for graduating high school seniors in the class of 2024 who pursue postsecondary education, training, or certifications. The reality is that today’s economy demands access to quick skill acquisition, whether that is a one, two or four year degree, professional training, an apprenticeship, or on-the job training.”

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Jan. 11, State of the Commonwealth, stated that “the heart of our economic challenge is growth” and said the out-migration of residents from the state “moving to states with lower taxes and lower cost of living and as those Virginians pack up and move away so go the jobs, investments, and tax revenue they drive.”

“The budget amendments I have put forward calls for immediate tax cuts for businesses and individuals – key, visible commitments and a modern-day shot heard round the world that says Virginia is here to compete and Virginia is here to win.“

“We must provide choice within the public school system by accelerating our bipartisan efforts to build lab schools. And we must accelerate dual-enrollment partnerships between our high schools and our community college system, so we WILL realize a day where every child graduates with an industry recognized credential.”

“Let’s fund research to drive innovation in small modular reactors, hydrogen, carbon capture and more effective battery storage. Let’s set realistic carbon reduction goals every five years, as opposed to etching in stone 30 year plans based more on hope than reality.”

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, Jan. 11, State of the State:

“I'm proposing with our ARPA dollars that have been sitting there a long time. I'm proposing with those dollars that are a total of $677 million, that we do with those dollars two things. We put $500 million of those dollars aside for the economic enhancement or impact fund.”

“I want to put $75 million in higher ed to work on deferred maintenance.”

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon in his Jan. 11, State of the State noted that the state’s joint hydrogen hub proposal with Colorado and New Mexico made the first cut and received the go-ahead to proceed to the next step. He also said he is requesting an additional $50 million for the Governor’s Energy Matching Fund, and urged support for the Joint Appropriations budget proposals for the State Engineer to have the “resources that are essential to boost our ability to respond and advocate for Wyoming water users effectively.”

“A diversifying economy also needs a nimble, skilled and ambitious workforce. Without collaboration by our higher education institutions to meet these workforce needs, those jobs will go elsewhere. That is why I joined with our community colleges and university to launch the Wyoming Innovation Partnership or WIP. This collaboration aligns education, workforce development and industry to support Wyoming's economic development needs.”

The story was updated Jan. 26 with the following additions:

Education and workforce continue to be significant themes in the governors’ State of the State addresses, as does the financial situation many states are enjoying with federal money being set aside for one-time projects. Energy and climate change also are prompting state leaders to consider ways to grow and protect their states, with Alaska’s governor touting his state’s resources and Delaware’s concerned about effects of rising sea levels on the state’s communities. This week’s review includes innovation-related proposals advanced by governors in Alaska, Delaware, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah and Wisconsin.

Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy gave his fifth State of the State address Jan. 23.

“We’ll continue to lead in the production of oil, of natural gas, of conventional and critical minerals. At the same time, our potential will allow us to emerge as the global leader in new forms of low and no carbon energy. We’ll unlock our stranded North Slope gas to power Alaska, to supply our Asian allies, and to produce zero carbon energy in the form of hydrogen and ammonia. We’ll take advantage of Cook Inlet’s resources with nearly 20 percent of the world’s tidal energy and 50 gigatons of carbon storage potential for industrial and international customers. We’ll attract investment and generate new revenue through our forests, our coastlines, and our oil and gas basins.”

“As we look to the future, we’ll tap into new markets for our resources, we’ll responsibly develop them, and we’ll remain the good stewards of our environment that we’ve always been. We’ll be a hub for energy, for logistics, for Arctic shipping, for unmanned aircraft, and for national defense. We’ll be a leader in renewable and nuclear energy.”

Delaware Gov. John Carney, Jan. 19, in his State of the State said that while his entire career in public service had been focused on creating jobs, currently the “biggest challenge we have is filling the job openings that are out there.” Knowing that other states find themselves in similar positions, the governor highlighted the need for a skilled workforce and commented that “our colleges and universities have never been more important in this work.”

“With the support of the American Rescue Plan, we’re building: a Clinical Lab at Delaware State University; an Allied Health Center at Delaware Tech in Wilmington; and a state-of-the-art laboratory on the site of the McKinly Lab at the University of Delaware.”

He connected the future workforce with today’s learners and a high-quality education.

“My budget proposal next week will include more than $50 million for Opportunity Funding. That’s on top of more than $100 million in investments we’ve already made. As most people know, Opportunity Funding provides direct support for low-income children and English learners.”

As the lowest-lying state in the nation, Carney said “the effects of climate change and sea level rise on Delaware communities are real,” and that the state needs to take action. “With the help of federal infrastructure funding, we will accelerate our efforts to build out Delaware’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. And we’ll restore investments in the Clean Water Trust – to protect our waterways and drinking water.”

Missouri Gov. Michael Parson’s Jan. 18 State of the State touted the state’s historically low unemployment rate and its Missouri One Start job training program. “Its success is why we are continuing our investment of $27 million dollars for additional Missouri One Start training projects to help recruit and train skilled workers for companies choosing our state.”

He also said that the state will build on last year’s broadband expansion, and plans to invest “an additional $250 million to do even more.”

“We are investing $3 million dollars in Apprenticeship Missouri to expand apprenticeship opportunities with a focus on IT, public health, education, and public safety, among others.”

“This year, we are seeking $2.2 million dollars for our 27 job centers across the state. With more than 195,000 job openings in Missouri, we must make sure Missourians who need a job get a job. Additionally, to further support career opportunities for our young people, we are requesting $500,000 dollars for our Jobs for America’s Graduates to help more high school students further their education or go directly into the workforce. For college bound Missourians, we are increasing core funding to our Community Colleges and 4-year institutions, by seven percent… the largest increase in more than 25 years. Additionally, we are investing another $275 million dollars for capital improvement projects on our college campuses… We are also proposing an additional $800,000 dollars for our Fast Track program to ensure that any qualified person seeking a scholarship is able to receive it. For our high school seniors wanting to further their education, we are also again fully funding A+ scholarships. AND to help promote workforce development on college campuses, we are recommending $38 million dollars for our MoExcels program to expand employer-driven education and training programs.”

The governor also noted that the semiconductor chip supply chain is a hurdle for manufacturing companies in the state. “To address this issue…for the first time…we are dedicating $25 million dollars for research, program development, and training to increase our competitiveness for semiconductor manufacturing right here in Missouri.”

Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo delivered his first State of the State on Jan. 23 and cautioned against overspending the unexpected budget surplus and said his budget “sets aside more than $2 billion dollars in total savings to safeguard against cuts to education and critical programs in the years to come.”

“Included in those savings is $315 million dollars for the Nevada Way Fund, a new sub-account to be used for transformational economic development projects and critical infrastructure needs in areas such as emerging markets in the north and south ends of the Las Vegas Valley, as well as in other emerging markets in Nevada. Approval of the Nevada Way funds will be authorized by the newly formed Nevada Way Leadership Committee, made up of the Governor and the bipartisan leadership of the Nevada Legislature.”

“For the first time in Nevada history, we will allocate over $730 million dollars to the Education Stabilization Account, which is a rainy day fund solely dedicated to K-12.

“Interest from this account will be innovatively used to provide scholarships to Nevada high school graduates who attend Nevada colleges or universities, and who are willing to teach in Nevada schools for at least five years.”

“We will also: increase funding for workforce innovation, to better respond to the needs of various organizations for workforce training; invest $75 million dollars for the long-term stability of the state’s Millennium Scholarship program; invest $65 million dollars in deferred maintenance for aging buildings; put $20 million dollars more in graduate student stipends and to support research at our system institutions; add $9 million dollars to build-up the faculty at UNLV Medical School, so that we can accommodate more medical students; and, appropriate $6 million dollars to continue state support for Promise Scholarships, for Nevada high school graduates attending our community colleges.”

The governor promised to consolidate workforce services into a single Office of Workforce, that will “develop and execute an integrated plan and will oversee the 17 revenue streams sourced to the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act.”

“Tax dollars should rightly follow the demand for services, regardless of political boundaries. I am asking the Legislature to work with me to ensure that as expiring tax abatements become new tax dollars, those incremental funds are directed to the communities most impacted by our state’s growth.”

He called water the greatest challenge that the state may be facing in the next decade.

“Southern Nevada’s unique ability to capture, treat and return water to the Colorado River is a clear competitive advantage, but our future is dependent on our ability to conserve and prioritize our use of water. It is also dependent on our ability to work with the seven basin states and Mexico to deal with short and long-term water resource solutions. Nevada must lead by example and demonstrate our firm resolve to achieve a new balance on the river. Going forward, I will be more involved along with Nevada’s best water experts, in future negotiations with other states, purveyors, and users to bring about necessary change.”

“… I am very proud to announce tonight that we will be making a $400 million dollar investment in broadband to accelerate statewide connectivity.”

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, delivered her fifth State of the State on Jan. 17 and called for increased investments in housing and infrastructure.

“…  I’m also calling for $128 million in water infrastructure improvements, $146 million in statewide broadband expansion, and updates to the New Mexico Film Tax Credit so we can attract even more businesses to communities in every corner of our state and redouble our investments in critical workforce development and job training programs.”

“In the days to come, we will redouble our commitment by launching a $75 million Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund to create sustained funding for state programs that protect our environment, combat issues like drought and water scarcity, and address the roots of climate change. This fund will bolster initiatives like the River Stewardship Program, which safeguards our waterways so New Mexicans can continue to hunt, fish and access clean water—offering economic benefits for this generation and those to follow while strengthening our fragile ecosystems.”

“We will also take another step in our sustainability efforts by codifying our zero-emissions goal in state statute ….”

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee, Jan. 17, State of the State:

“The budget surplus and economic stimulus funding from the federal government has put us in a position to make a record-setting investment in Rhode Island and in the people of Rhode Island. In addition to economic development projects happening across the state through public and private partnerships over the next several years, we will also have 137 state infrastructure projects totaling nearly $2 billion moving forward.”

“It’s time to double down and make a major investment in Rhode Island’s life science sector. My budget will reflect this investment and I look forward to working with the Speaker on this key priority that we both share.”

Striking a hopeful note, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox’s Jan. 19 State of the State was directed toward the youth of the state and elected officials in the Legislature had young family members with them for the address.

“… I am proposing another $500 million in water conservation investment in addition to new policy changes that will reduce our per capita use.”

Cox was the only governor thus far this year to call on social media companies to help protect youth and cited efforts to propose legislation that will “prevent social media companies from collecting data from our kids, limit the use of cell phones in the classroom, and empower parents to reduce this toxic technology in our homes.”

“We can do more to support skills-based learning for those who don’t choose to pursue a college degree and freeze tuition costs for those who do.”

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers delivered his fifth State of the State address on Jan. 24 and looked forward to the state’s 175th anniversary in 2023.

“More than 387,000 homes and businesses will have new or improved access to reliable, high-speed internet, and I want to double that number by the end of this term.”

This governor’s concern with water wasn’t related to its supply as many western governors have related, but to its contamination. “’I’m proposing to invest more than $100 million to take a three-pronged approach to confront PFAS [per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances] across our state. We’re going to increase PFAS testing, sampling, and monitoring statewide so we can find these contaminants and get them out of our water.”

“… I’m excited to announce we’re going to continue our Main Street Bounceback program in my biennial budget with a $50 million investment to provide as many as 5,000 eligible businesses with grants up to $10,000 to help afford building repairs and improvements, lease and mortgage payments, and defray other expenses that can be a barrier to someone’s dream becoming a successful business.

“We’re also going to ensure our more than 8,500 small businesses who’ve already received Main Street Bounceback grants continue to thrive by investing up to $5 million into providing technical assistance, mentorship, and educational training to these small business owners to ensure they have the support they need to continue their success.”

“… I’m announcing we’re going to continue harnessing our local ingenuity through the Workforce Innovation Grant program with a $100 million investment in my budget to keep developing new, innovative ideas and locally-based projects that will support our workforce and economic development based on what those communities and regions need.

“We’re also going to invest $10 million in an initiative led by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to collaborate with industries in every sector of our state’s economy to develop and implement initiatives to retain and attract talented workers.”

“… We’re also going to invest nearly $10 million into expanding clean energy job training and reemployment and reducing barriers for folks joining our clean energy workforce.”

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