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Tech Talkin’ Govs 2024: Innovation agendas from the governors’ State of the State addresses—Part 6

February 15, 2024
By: Laura Lacy Graham

In this week’s continuing coverage of gubernatorial addresses as they impact the innovation economy, governors from Connecticut, Maryland, and Wyoming discussed their state’s past economic and educational achievements and laid out their vision for this year as the states return to revenue and funding normalcy after years of federal pandemic aid ends. Connecticut’s governor announced that UConn and Yale are collaborating on quantum computing research, and he called for the funding of a biotech hub in New Haven. Maryland’s governor called for investments in the industries of the future (with proposed funding for life sciences, biotech, data centers, and cybersecurity). Wyoming’s governor discussed the state’s position in an “all of the above American energy policy.”

The following highlights have been excerpted from State of the States or budget addresses given between Feb. 7, 2024, and Feb. 13, 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 and 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.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont delivered his combined State of the State and Budget address to lawmakers on Feb. 7.  Heading into Connecticut’s second year of the 2024-2025 biennium, Lamont detailed the successes of the state’s first year and laid out his adjusted budget and legislative priorities for the second. The governor detailed an agenda that continues to emphasize efforts at affordability (including housing and housing construction policies); early childhood programs, which remains the administration’s top priority with additional funding proposed in the budget adjustment;  a state plan to assist Connecticuters in building wealth through the elimination of medical debt for low-income residents; pathways toward building wealth opportunities through continued investments in the state’s free community college and workforce training programs; and providing funding to and partnerships with the private sector to support small business startups. In his address, Lamont announced that UConn and Yale are collaborating on quantum computing research that will advance quantum technologies in Connecticut, including the biotech sector, and he called for the funding of a biotech hub in New Haven to accelerate growth in the life sciences sector.

On Feb. 7, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore gave his State of the State address, which previewed his administration’s first State Plan. The plan sets Moore’s legislative priorities, along with a performance-based agenda for the next three years, It is focused on the following areas: safety, affordability and housing (including pathways to home ownership and wealth creation), childcare and education, competitiveness, which involves investments in the industries of the future (with proposed funding for life sciences, biotech, data centers, and cyber), transportation, and anti-poverty policies that develop partnerships to create thriving communities. With Maryland facing significant budget gaps in this and subsequent years, the overarching theme of Moore’s address is to position Marylanders, especially its younger residents, for success through services, continued partnerships, and targeted investments in both the state’s and administration’s anti-poverty, communities, housing, and education initiatives, including apprenticeship and job training programs, all of which will be performance-based and measured accordingly.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon presented his annual State of the State address on Feb. 12.  As part of his speech, Gordon reiterated his state’s importance to the nation’s energy independence, from innovations involving coal to domestically enriched uranium, the mining of rare earth elements, and membrane technologies being created and perfected at the University of Wyoming for use in recovering lithium and other critical minerals. The governor touted an “all of the above American energy policy,” which positions his state as a leader in the resource policies and technology advances being developed and implemented in Wyoming. 

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.

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