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Tech Talkin’ Govs part 5: Tax incentives, clean energy, help for higher ed strike note in governors' addresses

February 07, 2019
By: Ellen Marrison

More than half of the governors have now delivered their state of the state addresses, and TBED initiatives continue to play a prominent role in their plans. Higher ed’s affordability and/or role in the workforce are concerns in Montana, South Carolina, Utah and Vermont. Maryland is looking at clean energy and higher education. Utah is also grappling with burgeoning growth while Vermont considers measures to increase its workforce.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s Jan. 30 state of the state address cited the “historic economic growth and record job creation” the state has experienced to fund education and the state’s other priorities, including eight legislative proposals in tax relief over the next five years. His TBED focus includes:

“Tax cuts for the college graduates who worked hard to earn their degree, only to face the harsh reality of crippling student loan debt.”

“We’re also proposing tax incentives to revitalize some of our forgotten communities and to make our state’s 149 opportunity zones the most competitive ones in the nation. And tax incentives to encourage the creation of thousands of jobs where we need them the most and for job training and workforce development to give people the skills they need.”

“This year, let’s work together to enact the Clean Cars Act and to support clean and renewable energy solutions and green energy jobs. But let’s ensure that these solutions are affordable and reliable and that they create those jobs right here in Maryland.”

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock delivered his final state of the state address (he is term limited) on Jan. 31, and focused on jobs and education:

“In 2013, not a single one of our two-year or tribal colleges was offering apprenticeships with on-the-job training to connect students to good-paying jobs. We now have apprenticeship coursework in seven out of ten two-year colleges, and in five of seven tribal colleges.”

“Let’s once again freeze in-state college tuition and prevent what is effectively a tax increase on 28,000 Montana students and their families. And let’s finally join 49 other states providing state-funded, need-based financial aid for students and adult learners. If we are willing to provide 5 million dollars for need based-aid, the university foundations will match our investment, better opening the doors of access to higher education to all Montanans.”

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster gave his address on Jan. 24, and focused on jobs:

 “My budget also triples existing funding for readySC, making more than $19 million dollars available for training new employees for business in the next fiscal year. Right now South Carolina has 60,000 highly paid jobs looking for people. High tech production; advanced manufacturing. The demand for workers in the skilled trades – plumbing, masonry, carpentry, and others – high paying jobs – is so great that our businesses have to go out of state to recruit them.

“High school students and their parents must be made aware that these new opportunities are readily available. My executive budget prioritizes funding for our technical colleges to identify and recruit local businesses to participate in collaborative partnerships with high schools; to create internship opportunities; to promote certificate completion. This will provide our local businesses with a pipeline of future employees who are ready to work.

“My budget includes $63 million dollars in additional dollars that are dedicated to workforce training and development. It triples new lottery funding for workforce scholarships and grants – to help students attend our state’s technical colleges.”

“I am proposing a one-year freeze on tuition and fees for in-state students at our public technical colleges, four-year colleges and research universities for the 2019-2020 academic year.

“In exchange for freezing in-state tuition and fees – to be certified by the Commission on Higher Education [CHE] – institutions will receive a 6 percent increase to their annual base budget. That will be their pro-rata share from a $36 million-dollar appropriation my budget makes to the CHE.

“I expect this one-year tuition freeze to serve as the first step toward a comprehensive reform of higher education funding and tuition.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert cited the state’s growth as its biggest challenge, “that if we don’t accommodate, will have a negative impact on our quality of life.” Herbert urged policymakers to learn all they could about the budget, noting that sustainable revenue was needed to support good policy, and cautioning that tax reform is “absolutely necessary” while also focusing on education:

“In higher education, we can improve accessibility by endowing $50 million of one-time money to a scholarship fund for financially disadvantaged college students. And working with our college presidents and our Board of Regents, we will continue to increase student completion rates and decrease the time needed for graduation.”

“… I would like to see robust computer science courses offered to every middle school student in Utah. I would also like every student to have a better understanding of basic free market economics.”

“… [W]e  have set a goal of reducing by 25 percent our per capita emissions across the state by 2026. And that is why we need to make a down payment of $100 million for data-driven improvements in our air quality.”

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott delivered his annual budget address Jan. 24, emphasizing policy reforms aimed at reversing the state’s declining labor force, which he called “the root of every problem we face.” He focused on expanding the economy by increasing the state’s labor force participation rate and transforming the state’s education system:

“Together, we have an opportunity to change this, with polices that better prepare students for a career, keep more of our kids after graduation, provide training for Vermonters so they can get a good job and attract new workers and new families to join our communities.”

“To help more people pursue education and training opportunities outside the traditional college track — and earn credentials too — my budget increases funding for VSAC’s [Vermont Student Assistance Corporation] Non-Degree Grant program by over $1 million. 

“And we’ll continue to increase our support for higher education, so my budget proposes $700,000 for UVM [University of Vermont] to replace declining Medicaid revenue and $3.2 million more to Vermont State Colleges. With this funding, the State Colleges will stop a planned three percent tuition increase on Vermonters for this coming school year.

“It will also support the creation of an associate degree program, delivered in at least three tech centers throughout the state, where students earn the first year of their degree as a high school senior and the second as a Vermont State College student.”

“To help revitalize all areas of our state, let’s modernize regulation to support growth in our local economic centers, expand broadband access and take action on climate change to strengthen our environment and economy.”

“To help, and to support our focus on the rural economy, I’m proposing to make bonding available for municipal broadband in areas that need it.

“To expand service, I’m proposing to invest $1 million for connectivity, and let’s eliminate the sunset on 248(a) — it’s worked to speed up telecom projects and we must continue to make progress.

“My team has been working closely on a partnership with Microsoft to expand broadband access and computer science education to communities with the greatest needs. This partnership will come with an investment in Vermont to support expanding broadband and to help kids and families in our communities learn more of the digital skills they need.”

“We all know transportation costs are high for rural Vermonters — that’s one of the reasons I will not support a carbon tax. But in its final report, the Vermont Climate Action Commission recommends an incentive to make electric vehicles more affordable, which I believe is a better approach because, as we’ve seen, incentives work.  So, I’m proposing $1.5 million in rebates to help more people purchase or lease new or used EVs [electronic vehicles]. 

“And to lead by example, I’m asking for your support in using $500,000 to invest in more EVs and EV infrastructure for the State fleet.”

“This year, my budget includes a total of $2.5 million to identify those most likely to consider moving to Vermont, tell them our story and make it easier for them to get here. 

“It starts with data-driven marketing to identify and reach those interested in what Vermont has to offer.

“It includes funding for relocation support to really sell Vermont by helping those who want to move here find a great job, housing and a community they’re drawn to, in the regions and job sectors that need them most.”

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers delivered his first state of the state address on Jan. 22, saying that Wisconsin has gone from being a state that led the nation in innovation to today being a state that is behind on broadband expansion and trails the country in start-ups and small business creation:

“… [L]ast week I directed the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to create an innovation and entrepreneurship committee focusing on supporting our small businesses, seeding capital funds, and technology development.”

Maryland, Montana, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsintech talkin govs