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Geography: Washington

Policy positions of gubernatorial candidates in 11 states discussed

Eleven states are holding gubernatorial elections this year with nine incumbents seeking reelection, two of which are facing off against their lieutenant governor. Only one governor, Steve Bullock in Montana, is term-limited and unable to seek reelection. In Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert is stepping down from the position he has held for 10 years. While many of the races this year will reflect referendums on the current governor’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the candidates have announced their innovation and economic development initiatives.

States dealt blow with pandemic

In general, the effect of the pandemic on states’ budgets due to the wave of business, retail, and commerce shutdowns, as well as other reduced economic activity across the nation, is not entirely known, or too early to forecast; however, a number of states are beginning to experience the initial impacts of a substantial downturn. With several states having already enacted their 2020-21 budgets, special sessions are expected later this year to deal with declining revenues. Others ended sessions early without a new fiscal year spending plan in place.

Tech Talkin’ Govs 2020: FL, GA, IN, IA, KS, KY, MO, RI, WA present diverse efforts to grow economies

Governors’ focus on initiatives particular to their state in this latest round of state of the state addresses. As SSTI continues to review the speeches for new innovation proposals, we found states continuing to focus on education with more attention on teacher salaries and efforts extending all the way down to pre-K with a recognition that the future workforce is influenced by many factors.

Election results could yield new state policies; TX doubles cancer R&D

Democrats made some gains in Virginia’s Legislature, and in Kentucky, the governor’s seat looks to be turning over to a Democrat, but the current Republican is requesting a recanvass in the close race. If those results hold, Democratic challenger and current Attorney General Andy Beshear will take the seat from incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin, ending the state’s Republican trifecta (where one party holds the governorship and both chambers of the legislature). Mississippi’s gubernatorial seat remained in Republican control, while the gubernatorial election in Louisiana takes place on Nov. 16, and the incumbent Democratic governor there is seeking another term. Following Tuesday’s elections, the divided government in Virginia turned into a Democratic trifecta in Virginia, as Republicans lost their hold in both the House and Senate. Those outcomes and results from several state legislative elections, along with the results of several innovation-related initiatives, are highlighted below.

Several states in play this election cycle for innovation initiatives, gubernatorial and legislative elections

As voters head to the polls next week, some will be deciding the fate of innovation and development-related initiatives, while voters in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi will be voting in gubernatorial elections. The initiatives include a possible additional $3 billion in Texas for cancer research. And in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia, legislative chambers are holding regular elections. Those races and initiatives are covered below.

5G initiatives begin exploring future of the emerging technology

A new innovation hub slated to open in January in Washington promises to connect 5G startups with investors and technology labs, while also creating a pipeline of jobs for students interested in the emerging sector. A separate effort in Virginia will become a testbed for 5G wireless security that is expected to accelerate cyber research and include 39 universities and four federal partners. Last year, the president directed the secretary of commerce to lead the creation of a long-term spectrum plan and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has since outlined development priorities for American leadership in the emerging technology.  But with no 5G network up and running yet, one may begin to wonder if all the attention is hype, or rooted in reality of a truly disruptive technology that will largely advance society. A recent briefing paper from the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy seeks to answer who is likely to benefit from this promised vastly faster connectivity, and how that value will be captured.

Free tuition offerings continue to evolve in states across the US

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham became the latest governor to propose a plan for free tuition, with what has been called the “one of the most ambitious attempts to make higher education more accessible.” If approved, the plan would allow in-state students to attend any of the 29 state public colleges or universities, regardless of income. It is designed as a “last-dollar” program.

Washington’s expansive college tuition program intended to build state's workforce

The Washington legislature passed a higher education bill that is awaiting the governor’s signature that would provide more aid for state residents attending higher education institutions in the state. The bill could raise nearly $1 billion over four years through an increase in the state’s business and occupation tax.

Tech Talkin’ Govs, part 3: Economic development, broadband, education and climate change driving governors’ innovation agendas

This week, we see broadband investment in Indiana; education initiatives that begin with pre-K and extend beyond high school in a number of states; lifelong learning approaches; apprenticeships; climate change and green energy initiatives in Nevada and Washington; and more on governors’ agendas. As governors across the country continue to deliver their state of the state addresses to their legislatures and constituents, SSTI monitors the speeches for news of innovation related initiatives.

Rural broadband emerging as early theme for 2019

Action toward improving the availability and speed of broadband in rural areas is emerging as an early theme in 2019, continuing activity from 2018. Oregon, Washington and the USDA all announced new initiatives last month. In mid-December, the USDA announced the availability of $600 million in grants and loans to support improvement of broadband accessibility across rural America. Funding is split into three equal pools. Up to $200 million may be awarded as grants (deadline for proposals is April 29); $200 million may be awarded as low-interest loans (applications due June 28); and $200 million may be distributed in a mix of grants and loans (proposals are due May 29).  Projects funded through this initiative must serve communities with fewer than 20,000 people with no broadband service or where service is slower than 10 megabits per second (mbps) download and 1 mbps upload.

Key ballot initiatives to impact state futures

SSTI has reviewed the ballot initiatives across the country that affect innovation. Several states have energy initiatives on their ballots, while higher education funding is at play in Maine, Montana, New Jersey and Rhode Island. Utah could become only the second state to fund its schools through gas taxes, if a measure there is passed. At the same time, four states have ballot issues addressing redistricting commissions which could have a significant impact on state legislative makeup when lines are redrawn after the 2020 census.

States’ fiscal picture improves with growing economy

The ability of states to deliver the services promised to its residents relies on their fiscal soundness. With most states beginning their fiscal year in July, SSTI has reviewed the current fiscal standing for each state and here presents a snapshot of our findings.

Most states ended their fiscal year with a surplus and continue to recover from the Great Recession, with a growing economy and job gains. However, they face continuing demands on their budgets, with expanded Medicaid payments and the growing opioid crisis confronting nearly every state. Such decisions affect the state’s ability to fund innovation efforts, from the amount of support available for higher education and STEM programs, to funding for entrepreneurship, and forging public private partnerships to strengthen innovation programming that the private sector cannot fully support.

Our analysis found that some states that rely on the energy sector to fund their spending priorities continue to struggle, while others are already factoring in anticipated revenues as a result of new Supreme Court rulings involving gaming and online sales tax collections.

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