• Join your peers at SSTI's 2024 Annual Conference!

    Join us December 10-12 in Arizona to connect with and learn from your peers working around the country to strengthen their regional innovation economies. Visit ssticonference.org for more information and to register today.

  • Become an SSTI Member

    As the most comprehensive resource available for those involved in technology-based economic development, SSTI offers the services that are needed to help build tech-based economies.  Learn more about membership...

  • Subscribe to the SSTI Weekly Digest

    Each week, the SSTI Weekly Digest delivers the latest breaking news and expert analysis of critical issues affecting the tech-based economic development community. Subscribe today!

Tech Talkin’ Govs 2024: Innovation agendas from the governors’ State of the State addresses—Part 4

February 01, 2024
By: Laura Lacy Graham

In this week’s continuing coverage of gubernatorial addresses as they impact the innovation economy, the common themes from Alaska, Michigan, and Maine were issues of opportunity, affordability and housing. Michigan and South Carolina governors proposed initiatives and programs that seek to assist in providing access to post-secondary education, their states’ economic competiveness, and securing jobs of the future for their residents. The following highlights have been excerpted from State of the States or budget addresses given between Jan. 24, 2023 and Jan. 30, 2024. Additional addresses and states will be covered in future Digest issues.

With the start of the new year, governors have begun to deliver their State of the State addresses, laying out proposals for new programs and discussing the conditions of their states. As states’ revenue levels return to more typical levels, lawmakers, with a few exceptions, are taking a more cautious, or constrained, view of their funding priorities and proposed initiatives. Many governors also appear to be more restrained in their addresses this year, speaking more to the previous year’s successes, suggesting lawmakers tighten their state’s fiscal belts while providing targeted investments into key or signature programs, as well as previously proposed initiatives, rather than rolling out new programs. The exception is in the innovation space related to semiconductors and recently announced tech hubs.  

Every year, SSTI reviews the State of State and budget addresses for any newsworthy developments or initiatives that governors may discuss or propose as they relate to the innovation economy.

Not all governors (Nevada or Texas) will deliver a State of the State this year, and three governors (Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi) will give inaugural addresses. Regardless of the addresses given, some may not have revealed new innovation-related initiatives, and therefore are not included in our coverage. Common initiatives among the governors so far this year that touched on innovation include a continued emphasis on workforce (including affordable housing and childcare), education and protections for minors on social media platforms; continued water issues for Western governors; and artificial intelligence (AI), clean energy, semiconductors, and climate action.

On Jan. 24, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivered her sixth State of the State address, which detailed an agenda that focused on education and housing, manufacturing and competitiveness, as well as bringing more jobs into the state. The address also celebrated the successes of, while providing a future roadmap for, the Make It in Michigan strategy—a plan for investing in the state’s people, places and projects, and economic prosperity. As part of this strategy, the governor asked lawmakers to make a $1.4 billion investment in the state’s housing plan that she introduced last year, which is seeking to make more housing available and affordable for Michiganders. The governor also called for expanding free public education by expediting the state’s pre-K programs and providing tuition-free community college to more Michiganders. In previous years, Whitmer said that the cost of college has been lowered through the Michigan Achievement Scholarship, as well as the Michigan Reconnect program. This year, in a greater effort at affordability and accessibility, she proposes two years of free community college to all high school graduates. Building upon the state’s “manufacturing renaissance” and proposed upgrades to advance the state’s competitiveness, including having more Michigan-made products and encouraging small businesses and startups to either stay in Michigan or come to the state, Whitmer is calling for the creation of the HIRE Michigan Fund, which would seek to attract small and second-stage businesses. She is also proposing expanding the state’s Renaissance Zones (strategically selected areas identified for business and entrepreneur investment and job creation) and establishing an Innovation Fund—a state mechanism to invest in high-growth startups—and to provide for the attraction and retention of young companies to relocate to or remain in Michigan.

Missouri Gov. Michael (Mike) Parson gave his sixth and final State of the State address on Jan. 24. As part of his address, Parson detailed several funding recommendations from his fiscal year 2025 budget proposal, including a request for an additional $10 million toward manufacturing and advanced semiconductor research, development and skills training, as well as $7 million to support mineral development.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster delivered his annual State of the State address and proposed fiscal year 2025 spending priorities on Jan. 24. Touting his state’s economic successes, McMaster honed in on what he called his state’s “national leadership” in advanced manufacturing involving innovative electric vehicles (EV) and battery manufacturing, as well as industry supply chain. The governor is requesting $50 million to create specialized EV Training Institutes at South Carolina’s technical colleges to continue that momentum. McMaster also highlighted the collaborative public-private initiatives that resulted in the development of the SC Nexus for Advanced Resilient Energy consortium (and recently designated as one of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration’s  [EDA’s] Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs) within the STouth Carolina Department of Commerce, resulting in a “one-stop shop to recruit and assist with electric vehicle investment and manufacturing in the state.” The governor recommends $15 million to support SC Nexus and serve as the state match required for the EDA competition. In addition, McMaster has called for the continued funding of $20 million for the Battelle Alliance, a collaborative nuclear sciences research partnership between the University of South Carolina, Clemson University, South Carolina State University, and the Savannah River National Laboratory. To address access and affordability of the state’s higher education and thereby ensure that South Carolina has the “trained and skilled workforce to successfully compete for jobs and investment in the future,” the governor is asking for lawmakers to freeze in-state college tuition and to allocate $95 million in funding to support the South Carolina Workforce Industry Needs Scholarship program, an initiative of the state’s Technical College System.

This article was prepared by SSTI using Federal funds under award ED22HDQ3070129 from the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. (The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Development Administration or the U.S. Department of Commerce.

tech talkin govs