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Tech Talkin’ Govs, Part I: AR, AZ, CT, IA, ID, IN, KS, ND, SD, VT, WI - workforce, education top concerns

January 12, 2017

SSTI again presents its latest round of Tech Talkin’ Govs, where governors’ comments about TBED issues are excerpted from their state of the state and inaugural addresses. Today’s roundup includes STEM spending and workforce development in Idaho, education in Arizona, manufacturing in Connecticut and a nod to technological change in North Dakota, inaugural addresses from new governors in Vermont and Indiana, and more reports from governors who gave their addresses on the 10th. Next week the Digest will continue with Part II of Tech Talkin’ Govs featuring news from the next round of addresses.


During the first week of January Gov. Phil Scott gave his inaugural address focusing on the state’s shrinking workforce and its implications to a joint session of the Vermont legislature.

“From 2000 to 2010 the number of 25-45 year olds in Vermont decreased by 30,000… This is compounded by our shrinking workforce. Since 2010, we’ve lost 16,000 workers… and that downward trend continues. … But we literally cannot afford to ignore this issue anymore. We must have a laser-focus on attracting and retaining working age people… If we do, we can rebuild our workforce... We can provide our businesses with the talented workers they need to thrive... And we can grow revenue organically…

“I know future economic development will look very different than it did in 1957. But we must develop a network of small-to-midsize businesses that will grow into the next IBM, My Web Grocer, or GW Plastics. Going forward, we will mirror our strong support of larger employers with our efforts for small business. Fostering job creation and recruiting entrepreneurs will create a more resilient economy.

“My administration will work to significantly reshape our approach to economic development, tying it more directly to our workforce expansion efforts. I will present the details of this effort in the coming days. It will be a significant realignment of our economic development tools.

“[W]e must rethink our entire education spectrum. Everything from early childhood education and graduate school to tech programs, workforce training and adult learning. We can revitalize the entire system, so we no longer have to accept rising taxes and compromises in the quality of our children’s education. I ask everyone to overcome this fear of change. We must be bold, together.

North Dakota

In North Dakota, newly-elected Gov. Doug Burgum, opened the 2017 legislative session with his state of the state address on January 3, noting the “world of fundamental change due to the powerful and unstoppable forces of technology.”

“These powerful technological forces are fueling an underlying change in our economy and will challenge all of our existing approaches, systems and institutions. Harnessing these forces can lead to lower costs and better outcomes in health care, education and infrastructure. And these areas are some of the biggest cost drivers of our state budget. Understanding these forces is essential. They’ll shape how we live and the cities we build. They’ll also help us create and retain a 21st century workforce, attract more entrepreneurs and innovators and keep our children and grandchildren in North Dakota.”


Gov. Dannel P. Malloy began his 2017 state of the state address on January 4 in Connecticut by thanking the general assembly for meeting in a special session in September to “take historic action in support of our state’s economy and our incredible workforce,” referencing a partnership with Sikorsky Aircraft that Malloy said protected 8,000 jobs.

“Together we’ve protected Connecticut’s aerospace and defense industries for a generation and likely beyond.

“Through the Small Business Express program, more than 1,600 companies have retained 18,000 good jobs and are now creating even more. The Manufacturing Assistance Act has helped 150 companies since 2011, retaining 34,500 jobs and growing 8,500 more jobs.

“Next month, I am going to come back to you with more details on the topics I laid out today: about how government should continue to become smaller and more effective; about how we can continue working with our partners in labor…; and about why we should find a fairer way to fund public education, so that we can ensure dollars are going to where they are needed most.”


Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter gave his state of the state and budget address to the Idaho legislature on January 9, reporting growth for the state and outlining his focus on education.

 “My funding recommendation additionally includes another $5 million a year for expanding and improving college and career counseling in Idaho high schools. …I’m also urging you to continue supporting the STEM Action Center and its groundbreaking Computer Science Initiative. 

“…I’m recommending the transfer of $35 million to the Permanent Building Fund for higher-education facilities throughout Idaho. That includes $10 million for a Center for Material Science at Boise State University, $10 million for the University of Idaho to build the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment or “CAFÉ” in the Magic Valley, $10 million for Lewis-Clark State College to construct a Career-Technical Education building adjacent to the proposed Lewiston High School CTE facility, and $5 million toward remodeling the Gale Life Sciences Building at Idaho State University.

“Establishing a College of Eastern Idaho will spur economic growth and complete a comprehensive statewide system of affordable community college options, …I also support and urge your positive consideration of the College of Western Idaho’s efforts to expand its Nampa campus and build a new campus in Boise. 

“My other higher education budget priorities …focus on workforce development and expanding programs at our four-year institutions and community colleges that support such in-demand career fields as energy, computer science and the health professions.

“We’re not alone in our efforts to build and improve Idaho’s workforce. From STEM education to advanced research, we have a strong partner in the Idaho National Laboratory. … The State Board of Education, the INL and our universities are working to finance and build two world-class research facilities near the Center for Advanced Energy Studies in Idaho Falls. … It will help to address our workforce needs by growing a talent pipeline for the INL and related Idaho industry. And perhaps most importantly, it will enable more of Idaho’s best and brightest students to find high-paying career opportunities right here at home.”


Gov. Doug Ducey delivered his state of the state address on January 9 in the House of Representatives.

“I have a commitment our educators can take to the bank: starting with the budget I release Friday, I will call for an increased investment in our public schools – above and beyond inflation – every single year I am governor.

“It’s 2017, but outside of our urban areas, broadband is still spotty. Let’s fix this, by connecting these rural schools to high-speed internet. And let’s couple it with a statewide computer science and coding initiative. This session, let’s break the firewall and get these kids connected.

“We’re set to manufacture electric cars, and we’re the world’s hub for the testing of autonomous vehicles. And finally – we even have Uber at the airport.

“With hackers threatening our systems, the government has a responsibility to protect the personal information of our citizens. …That is why my budget will include an investment in improved cyber security. If we are going to be entrusted with this information, we must invest in protecting it. Period.”


Gov. Eric Holcomb gave an upbeat inaugural address in Indiana on Tuesday.

“We’ve become national leaders in business growth, and we’ve been landing jobs and business relocations that—10 or 12 years ago—were going to Austin or Boston or the Silicon Valley— practically anywhere but here. That’s no longer the case. Today, Indiana has three times the high-tech job growth as the nation as a whole. Warsaw is the Silicon Valley of orthopedics, generating one-third of that industry’s worldwide business. And our great state is among the nation’s leaders in life-science exports. In fact, of the 50 industries the Brookings Institute says will drive growth in the 21st century, Indiana is a player in 45 of them.

“In fact, our employers can recruit and groom future employees right out of our world-class universities and colleges.”

Holcomb also addressed some of the state’s TBED challenges:

“Too many Hoosier grads explore opportunities outside our state line. And too many Hoosier businesses are having trouble finding the skilled workers they need to grow.

“While we’re Number 1 in the nation in manufacturing, the competition is fierce—not only from 49 states but from countries around the globe. Moreover, in the next 10 years, we’ll need to find one million new skilled workers to replace the 700,000 baby boomers who will retire—plus the 300,000 new jobs we will need to create.”


Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who noted that the state is enjoying a growth surge, delivered the state of the state at the kick off of the 91st session of the general assembly on January 10.

 “[W]e must improve the way we fund higher education. Let’s base the dollars to higher education, not on the number of students enrolled, but upon the educational progress of the students. And so I ask you to support the new legislation that will create a new funding formula for higher education, and that you will help support the additional funding necessary to implement that higher education funding formula.

“It is essential that we, as a state, give every high school student a simple promise: If you pursue a high need job skill or degree, then we will assure you that all your tuition and mandatory fees will be paid through a two-year college program or technical school. It is a simple promise with a big return for our state and the next generation. It is called ArFuture Grants and it will require a mentoring program for the student. It will require working in the state for three years after college. But it will be created with existing program funds and used in combination with other education funds that are already available. Because of ArFutures, it will be not only possible, but practical, for a student to get two-year degree or certificate without any student debt.”


Gov. Terry E. Branstad also delivered his Condition of the State address on January 10 to the Iowa General Assembly.

“To ensure that our children are prepared for a 21st century economy we advanced a nationally recognized STEM initiative that gives students the confidence and skills for rewarding careers.

 “Iowa’s industries are increasingly high tech, including advanced manufacturing. In total, Iowa has over 6,100 manufacturers that contribute more than $31 billion to Iowa’s economy and employ over 200,000 Iowans. Over the next year, the Iowa Economic Development Authority will work with Iowa’s manufacturers to advance a ‘Year of Manufacturing’ in Iowa to help grow this important part of the Iowa economy.

“Education and job training are the foundation for our future economic growth. Growing our state’s talent pipeline needs to be a top priority. Even with our modest revenue growth my recommendation includes an increase of $73 million for K-12 education for fiscal year 2018 and an additional $61 million for fiscal year 2019 which equates to roughly 2 percent growth each year.

 “One way to do this is to close the skills gap which in many ways is the biggest challenge our state faces over the next decade. That is why Lt. Governor Reynolds and I set the Future Ready Iowa goal that 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce should have education or training beyond high school by 2025.

“Accomplishing this ambitious goal will create unprecedented opportunities for Iowans and better position our state to compete in an increasingly knowledge-based, digital economy. That is why we established the Future Ready Iowa Alliance, … to assure more Iowans have the careers they deserve and employers can hire the skilled workers they need to grow and innovate. Even with a tight budget, we should continue to prioritize initiatives that will grow the state’s talent pipeline like the STEM initiative, registered apprenticeships and work-based learning for Iowa’s students.”


Gov. Sam Brownback gave his state of the state address January 10 and made an immediate call to “address the imbalance between state revenues and expenditures.”

“Tonight, I am laying out a challenge to our colleges and universities to provide the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree—in total—for $15,000 or less. While the challenge is great, the potential achievement is greater. I trust that Kansas colleges and universities are fully capable to rise to this call. With success in this field already proven in other states, my budget fully funds 50 student scholarships to the institution that first accomplishes the $15,000 degree.”

South Dakota

Gov. Dennis Daugaard gave his state of the state address in the state capitol on January 10:

“At the technical institutes, the Build Dakota Scholarship is in its second year, and I am excited about the results we’re seeing. As you know, this scholarship with launched with $25 million from Denny Sanford and another $25 million in state Future Funds. Approximately 300 students each year receive full-ride scholarships to attend a technical institute in a high need program, promising to work in that field in South Dakota after they graduate.

“Just down the road from Spearfish Canyon is another significant state investment, the Sanford Underground Research Facility at the former Homestake Gold Mine. Progress continues at the lab on the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE. This experiment will fire a beam of neutrinos – tiny subatomic particles – from Fermilab, just outside Chicago, through the Earth to huge underground detectors at the Sanford Lab. Thirty countries and 161 institutions are now involved with DUNE. Rehabilitation of the Ross Shaft, which is necessary to move equipment down into the lab, is 85 percent complete and on track to be finished in September. Last year, the project received federal approval for early construction. In 2017, the lab will begin building a conveyor system to remove rock as massive detector chambers are created underground, beginning in 2019. Although funding for this project is always contingent on the federal budget, our state’s investment in the facility, as well as the continued support of our congressional delegation, have put us in an unprecedented position to succeed.”


Gov. Scott Walker delivered his address on January 10 at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

“[O]ur biggest challenge is not creating jobs, but finding people to fill them. We went from a focus on ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ to talking about ‘workforce, workforce, workforce.’ This is my top priority for 2017 - and beyond.

“During the past four years, we invested millions into workforce development. 

“We invested more resources this past year into college and career readiness initiatives, including dual enrollment, FAB labs, and youth apprenticeships. The state started providing funding for school districts to do academic and career plans as early as 6th grade starting this year. We want every child to prepare a path to a career that is right for them.

“We are making college more affordable, and at the same time, the University of Wisconsin is thriving. The UW System had the largest overall budget in history this year. U.S. News and World Report moved the ranking of UW-Madison up on their list of the best public colleges in the country. They also gave positive mentions to 10 other UW schools.

“In addition, we invested more into the Wisconsin Technical College System. Our Blueprint for Prosperity plan opened 5,000 more slots for students in high-demand areas, and this past spring, we expanded the Wisconsin grant program. Our technical colleges continue to be a super option for so many students looking for a rewarding career.

“We will actually cut tuition for all Wisconsin undergraduates throughout the UW system.

“I am proposing the state invest $35.5 million more to expand our broadband access grant program and for our efforts to help upgrade technology, and train teachers from small and rural school districts. That would bring our total investment to $52 million.”


Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsinstate budgets