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Tech Talkin’ Govs, Part III: AK, IN, MI, NM, NV, RI talk feature education, workforce initiatives

January 26, 2017

SSTI’s latest Tech Talkin’ Govs installment excerpts TBED highlights from governors’ speeches in Alaska, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada and Rhode Island. Education and workforce are focal points in this latest round of the state of the state addresses, as they have been in the two previous posts. Varying issues are factored into the speeches, from the $3 billion fiscal gap in Alaska to the proposed free college tuition in Rhode Island.


Gov. Bill Walker, facing a $3 billion fiscal gap, delivered his third state of the state address to the State Legislature on Jan. 18 in Juneau:

“Here is the hard truth. Denial doesn't make the problem go away. Hope doesn't pay the bills. We need to pass a plan to stabilize our fiscal future. And we need it now.

“We must do a better job of preparing our youth for the challenges of the future. To meet this challenge, we need to rethink our entire system of public education. Alaskans must be at the heart of this effort.

“We have already begun. Through an active public outreach process, the State Board of Education has identified five priorities for Alaska’s public education system: improving student learning; ensuring excellent educators; modernizing the system; inspiring tribal and community ownership; and promoting safety and well-being.”


Gov. Eric Holcomb’s first state of the state focused on what he called his five pillars to take Indiana to the next level, and included cultivating a strong and diverse economy and developing a 21st century skilled and ready workforce:

“Businesses and jobs that a dozen years ago were going to Austin or Boston or the Silicon Valley are now coming to Indiana. Because we saw that innovation and high-tech were keys to unlocking the 21st century economy, we aggressively pursued them. And today, those investments have ignited new high-tech jobs all across our state.

“Let’s start with strengthening and diversifying our economy because I believe that is the linchpin to improving Hoosier lives. Everything is easier if you have a job. As we begin our third century, we see jobs and entire industries based on knowledge, technology and innovation. And we’re as likely to be trading with Germany and South Korea as we are with Georgia and South Dakota.

“I propose a plan to make available 1 billion dollars over the next 10 years to make Indiana the capital of innovation and entrepreneurship. This will include: the Next Level Indiana Fund, the 21st Century Fund, and a new grant program to support innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives among higher education and in our local communities.

“I will ask you to continue to support the Regional Cities initiative by investing four million dollars more in this budget. This will keep the planning and momentum going in other regions of the state that did not receive funding in the program’s first round.

“My third pillar is to develop a 21st century skilled and ready workforce. Our plans need to be comprehensive – beginning with an education system that gives every child a strong start all the way through the training programs that ensure our citizens have the skills they need. Therefore, we must make sure that our resources are properly aligned to produce the skill sets our businesses crave and I look forward to working with Representative Huston to develop a plan to create, reconfigure and align workforce development programs and funding so that those needs – of today and tomorrow – are met. But it all starts way before one’s first interview, of course. Our most vulnerable children deserve a fair start, too, so I’ve called for us to double the state’s investment in pre-kindergarten to 20 million dollars annually.

“We also know that science, technology, engineering and math – the STEM subjects – are critical for 21st century jobs – not just Ph.D.’s but a growing number of jobs in all the key sectors of our economy, yet the many statewide efforts to boost STEM education are often independent of each other. So we will invest one million dollars each year to lead a statewide effort to better coordinate K-12 STEM education throughout Indiana and tap into the synergy that is within our grasp. At the same time, more than half of Hoosier schools lack Wi-Fi in their classrooms.

“To improve digital connectivity, we’ll increase state funding by one million dollars annually to enable more schools to participate in the federal E-rate matching program. Our needs extend well beyond the classroom. Right now there are 30,000 unfilled jobs in Indiana, and some two million Hoosiers do not have the education and skills needed for today’s jobs.

“So we’ll invest some two million dollars in this budget to create regional ‘Jobs Ready Grants’ to help current workers complete credentials or certificates in high-demand, high-wage fields, so they can enter the workforce in more skilled and highly-paid positions.”


Gov. Rick Snyder delivered his state of the state in Lansing, MI, and focused on the state’s manufacturing, as well as education and bringing young people into the state to live and work:

“To give you a fact you might be amazed by, but we should be really proud, our state has the highest net-bound inward migration of people with bachelor’s degrees of any state in the Great Lakes region. We are winning the national and international competition for quality minds, for career opportunities for quality people and we are going to keep it up. Business in Michigan is growing with exciting expansions and new investors.

“Manufacturing. We are simply leading the nation. We have created over 116,000 manufacturing jobs since December 2010. We lead the nation. We are number one both in terms of number of manufacturing jobs and growth rate percentage.

“We have more opportunity in Detroit, though, and that’s where I appreciate a partnership with the Mayor on the Detroit Promise. It’s a wonderful program that we have launched to really give college opportunity to kids in Detroit. We started with a two-year program and this year we opened it up to four-year opportunities. We are going to have over 1,000 students participating this year, with 268 having an opportunity to go to a university now; but we can’t take this for granted. In fact, I am calling on our philanthropic and business communities to join in and help the Mayor and I support the Promise…

“Actually there’s a recent study that says that 71% of the STEM, science, technology, engineering technology, math, jobs of the future will need to have knowledge about computer coding, computer science and such. 71%. … We have a huge gap. We need to close that gap and so I look forward to creating a work group to work with the legislature, the Superintendent, on coming up with great ideas about how to encourage more of this and you’re going to find us willing to make investments, it’s that important.

“In fact this last year we had a 14% increase in registered apprentices and we have more than 13,000 already, but that number needs to grow dramatically and I know I have partners in this Legislature to talk about how to grow more apprenticeships in this state and I know I have great partners from the private sector that believe in that too.

“A great program that we did this last year we should be really proud of is called CCSTEP. It was about providing capital equipment to our community colleges to upgrade their career tech education programs. … It was an outstanding investment that we helped 18 community colleges.

“We’ve got to do more to have career fairs, hands on career fairs for our kids of all ages and their parents. We’ve got to get our companies to be more proactive to offer tours, to provide mentors, to provide apprenticeships. This is a team effort folks, let’s all rally together to make this happen.”

New Mexico

Gov. Susana Martinez acknowledged the challenges facing the state because of dropping oil and gas prices and focused on diversifying the state’s economy to lessen that impact and other ways to respond:

“We lost over 11,000 oil and gas jobs. Despite those losses, we added over 30,000 private sector jobs. That’s a direct result of choosing reforms: jobs in manufacturing, high tech, finance and tourism.

“Make no mistake about it. We are diversifying our economy and laying a strong foundation for private-sector growth.

“We can make that future even brighter if we continue improving our higher education system.

“I was proud to announce late last year the ‘Route to 66’ initiative. With this goal, we are aiming to have 66 percent of working age New Mexicans holding a certificate, degree or some higher education credential by 2030.

“Today we are 31st in the nation, with 43.6 percent of working-age New Mexicans holding some sort of higher education credential. 66 percent is an ambitious goal, but we must cast off the low expectations of the past. Through coordination and collaboration with our colleges and universities, we are providing students with a higher quality education that equips them with the skills employers need. …Since 2010, we have increased the number of degrees awarded to students by 21.5 percent. We are making the institutions more efficient, mapping degrees so that students can graduate after 120 credit hours. Just a year ago, 32 percent of our degree programs were attainable within 120 credit hours. Today, that number is 63 percent. We can build on that success.

“More institutions than ever before are incentivizing graduation in four years. They offer tuition guarantees or tuition breaks if students finish in four years. We want to contain costs and not leave students with outrageous debt.”


Gov. Brian Sandoval gave final state of the state address:

“Advanced manufacturing facilities and technology companies have been catalysts for new growth in higher-wage industries. However, without a more skilled workforce, which I will discuss in a moment, new companies will struggle to find qualified workers. …This two-year budget is 10 percent larger than the last budget, due primarily to needed investment in workforce development, education, infrastructure, and Medicaid caseload growth, but is considerably below the statutory spending cap formula established in 1979.

“The bottom line is that an unprepared workforce inhibits our economic growth, and prevents too many of our citizens from obtaining the jobs they deserve. By 2025, roughly 60 percent of all jobs in Nevada will require some form of post-secondary degree or other credential. Today, only 30 percent of Nevadans between the ages of 25 and 34 have completed some level of post-secondary education.

“Our effort to prepare a modern workforce begins with our post-secondary institutions. I will continue our commitment to Nevada’s students by keeping the promise of the millennium scholarship with a contribution of $20 million to this legacy program. My budget includes an increase of $115 million in new investments for higher education.

“Academic programs offered by our higher education institutions, particularly our community colleges, must be closely aligned with our economic development strategy. This is why my budget includes $21 million to enhance career and technical education programs at our four community colleges.

“My budget adds $10 million in new funding for capacity building initiatives at each of Nevada’s seven post-secondary institutions and the Desert Research Institute. This investment focuses on preparing students for careers in advanced manufacturing, nursing, autonomous systems, teaching, and others.

“…[M]y budget includes $58 million for new student enrollment at UNR and UNLV.

“…I’m proposing the construction of a new college of engineering at UNR, an $83 million project, half of which will be funded by the state. This new school will develop the best and brightest in the engineering sciences and help to achieve Nevada’s objective to be a global leader in innovation. My budget includes permanent funding for the office of workforce innovation.

“When implemented, we will meet or exceed the goal that 60 percent of Nevadans between the ages of 25 and 34 will have earned some form of post-secondary degree or credential by 2025.

“I also understand that technology is a critical component of learning; accordingly, we must act to ensure our students have access to broadband at school. That’s why I’m announcing the Nevada Connect Kids initiative, an investment of $2 million of matching funds to ensure our schools have access to high speed broadband, particularly in rural areas.

“I have allocated $3.5 million for the creation of Nevada’s first cyber-defense center run by Nevada’s first cyber-defense coordinator.”

Rhode Island

Gov. Gina Raimondo, who had earlier released her free college tuition plan, delivered her state of the state last week:

“Our workforce is getting stronger. Thousands of Rhode Islanders are learning new skills to compete in our growing advanced economy. … And I’m proud of the Rhode Islanders with the courage and determination to learn new skills in the middle of their careers.

“The budget I’ll send to the legislature protects and expands our investment in training programs so that every Rhode Islander can compete.

“Let’s rebuild and reinvent the manufacturing industry in Rhode Island. Rhode Islanders are counting on us. The budget I propose will include funding for a new manufacturing plan: First, we’re going to invest in manufacturing initiatives for our high school students.  Second, we’re going to help smaller manufacturers invest in new equipment.  Third, we’re going to make it easier for manufacturers to train and hire Rhode Islanders.

“…I’ll bring a group together to begin work on a comprehensive plan to expand our advanced manufacturing industries and position Rhode Island for success in growing industries like offshore wind and precision manufacturing.

“So, tonight I say that we stand together and expand our Rhode Island Promise. That we ensure every young person in our state has an opportunity to compete for the good-paying jobs that we’re creating. Today, I say that we take charge of our future.

“Tonight, I propose that we ensure Rhode Island is the first state in America to guarantee two free years of college for every Rhode Island student at CCRI, URI or Rhode Island College.”


Alaska, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Islandtech talkin govs