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Tech Talkin’ Govs, part 6: Education, workforce, climate change top TBED agendas

February 14, 2019
By: Ellen Marrison

Educating the next generation of workers, ensuring they will have the skills necessary for the jobs of the future and paying attention to the actions that will affect the climate are all on the agendas of the latest round of governors giving their state of the state and budget addresses. A focus on skills can be seen in addresses from governors in California, Maine, Michigan, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. States are also continuing with initiatives to forward attention on climate change, as reflected in Maine’s climate agenda and Michigan joining other states in the Climate Alliance.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom gave his first state of the state address:

 “We must map out longer-term strategies, not just for the utilities’ future, but for California’s energy future, to ensure that the cost of climate change doesn’t fall on those least able to afford it.”

“California needs a comprehensive statewide strategy to uplift and upskill our workers, to ensure technological advancements in AI, blockchain, big data, are creating jobs, not destroying them, and to reform our institutions so that more workers have an ownership stake in their sweat equity.

“We will appoint a new Commission on California’s Workforce & Future of Work. We will bring together leaders from labor and business – both the public and private sectors. Their assignment is to come up with new ideas to expand worker opportunity without extinguishing innovation or flexibility.”

Maine Gov. Janet Mills gave a budget address on Feb. 11, outlining priorities she had sketched out during her campaign, including education and workforce development:

“The budget also increases funding for adult education and career technical high schools so that every Mainer can compete for skilled jobs in an ever-changing economy.”

“The budget … increases funding for the University of Maine System, for the Community Colleges, and for the Maine Maritime Academy. And it provides $3 million more for scholarships through the Maine State Grant Program to prevent students from going into debt.”

“To expand the economy, the budget invests $2 million in broadband, designed to draw down much larger amounts of federal money to Maine; [and] funds $5 million for rural development; …”

“We will work with the private sector and with groups like the Maine Development Foundation to identify our state’s many assets and build upon them to foster and attract:

  • Sustainable farming, diversified fisheries and innovative forest products businesses;
  • Clean energy producers;
  • High tech industries;
  • Data centers;
  • Places for people to work remotely; and,
  • A quality of life that will attract young working families back to our state.”

“Climate change is a priority issue. Our Office of Policy Innovation and the Future is preparing a climate agenda, which I will announce in the coming weeks.

“Suffice it to say, we will make every effort, without additional general fund dollars:

  • To assist the University of Maine in the research and development of offshore wind power;
  • To provide incentives for community and residential solar power;
  • To promote energy efficiency and weatherization;
  • To increase the use of heat pumps;
  • To build charging stations and incentives for electric vehicles; and,
  • To help local and state government become ‘green.’”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer emphasized education as a pathway to better jobs, and better educational leadership to ensure students are ready for the workforce:

“I am announcing a new statewide goal of increasing the number of Michiganders between the ages of 16 and 64 with a post-secondary credential to 60 percent by 2030. …”

“… [T]onight, I’m announcing three paths for workers and students across our state. The first is for Michiganders who have already started their careers.”

“By training adults seeking an in-demand industry certification or associate degree, Reconnect is a path for working Michiganders to up- skill. It will also connect Michigan businesses to qualified candidates for the growing number of jobs that are currently unfilled.”

“The second path is for graduating high school students who want to continue their education, but who decide that a four-year college or university isn’t for them. … For them: the MI Opportunity Scholarship, will guarantee two years of debt-free community college for all graduating high school students who qualify. The scholarship will be officially launched this spring and available to students in the fall of 2020. And it will make Michigan the first Midwestern state to guarantee community college for all.

“The third path is for graduating high school seniors who … do want to pursue a four-year degree, but who can’t afford to do so.”

“… [T]he MI Opportunity Scholarship will provide two years of tuition assistance at a four-year, not-for-profit college or university for students who graduate from a Michigan high school with at least a B average. …”

“I also joined Michigan in the U.S. Climate Alliance, with a bipartisan coalition of governors from 20 other states that have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.”

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt wants to ensure that students in the state will be educated by the best and brightest as they prepare to enter the workforce, and spent part of his address outlining teacher salary increases and retention, before turning his attention to the students themselves:

“I will sign into law any legislation that seeks to break down the silos between common education, career techs, and higher education so that we can better align the education experience for Oklahoma’s children and prepare them for tomorrow’s workforce of machinists, computer programmers, engineers, and more.”

“… In order to make our efforts in state government sustainable, we must first grow Oklahoma. We need more taxpayers, not more taxes. We will reimagine our economy by diversifying our marketplace, strengthening our workforce, and encouraging Oklahomans to start new businesses. Our rules must be clear, our regulations must make sense, and our tax code must remain competitive with our neighbors.”

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said the most significant element of this budget proposal is a comprehensive plan for preparing Pennsylvanians to compete and win in the rapidly changing economy, and said he was proposing the largest investment in Pennsylvania’s workforce:

“I’m proposing a package of policies and investments called the Statewide Workforce, Education, and Accountability Program. …”

“Starting immediately, we are going to put together a Keystone Economic Development and Workforce Command Center. Agency secretaries are going to meet each week with plans in hand and sit together to make sure no workforce effort walks alone or falls through some crack in the state government.”

“The command center will have a first-of-its-kind Employer Fund, a public-private partnership that empowers businesses to address the skills gap from their end and encourages them to share their best ideas and best practices so that we can scale them up and learn from their success.”

“The Command Center is going to be led by the secretaries of the departments of Community and Economic Development, Labor & Industry, and State, three agencies that have the largest impact on Pennsylvania’s workforce and business development.”

“We all know that our post-secondary institutions are laboratories for innovation. But they are also launchpads for job creators and the skilled workers that will fill those jobs. That’s why my plan creates a new grant program for students who graduate from a Pennsylvania community college with an associate’s degree or other industry-recognized credential – and then stay in Pennsylvania to start their careers.”

“And if you’re a parent who wants to trade up from a job that pays the bills to a job that can sustain your family, my plan includes a Parent Pathway initiative designed to help you get the education you need to get ahead even while you prepare your own kids for success.”

“This year, I’m proposing $10 million in new funding for PAsmart so we can fill more advanced manufacturing positions, help more non-traditional students obtain the training they need to compete in the job market, and create more jobs at better wages for more Pennsylvania workers.

“This program also includes funding to help returning veterans get the training they need to continue their contributions to our commonwealth as members of our workforce – and, even better, that funding is transferable, meaning that veterans can use it to help their kids get a college degree or career credential, as well.”

California, Maine, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvaniatech talkin govs, higher ed, education, workforce, climate change