SSTI Digest

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Geography: Washington

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.

More states target broadband to drive rural economic growth

In February, SSTI highlighted several state-led efforts to address the rural broadband gap, which affects more than 30 percent of rural America who currently lack access to adequate broadband service. The states’ efforts should help revitalize rural communities by aiding small business formation and manufacturers’ expansion, and improve educational achievement/workforce training for local citizens. As some state legislative sessions wrap up, several more governors and state lawmakers have created new initiatives to address this significant issue. Alabama, Colorado and Washington provide the most recent examples of new commitments, including some reversing bans on public broadband provision when the private market fails to deliver.

Tech Talkin’ Govs 2018, part 2: AL, CO, GA, IN, KS, NE, SD, WA focus on education, workforce

SSTI’s Tech Talkin’ Govs feature returns as governors across the country roll out their state of the state addresses. We review each speech for comments relevant to the innovation economy, and bring you their words directly from their addresses. In this second installment, we present excerpts from governors in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Washington.

Workforce development and/or apprenticeship programs receive attention in all of the below excerpts. The Alabama governor said she is seeking an additional $50 million for higher education, while the Georgia governor talked about reorganizing their technical college system. In Indiana the governor is challenging the state economic development department to create thousands of new jobs and said in the first quarter the state will begin to make strategic investments to build and support more innovation and entrepreneurship through the already established $250 million Next Level Indiana Trust Fund.

States scramble to negotiate final budgets; DE, LA, ME, MO, NH, VT and WA reviewed for innovation funding

With a July 1 start to the fiscal year in most states, several states that were at an impasse over their budget faced at least partial shutdowns. Last minute negotiations restarted services in both Maine and New Jersey, while Illinois, which has been operating without a budget since 2015, faces threats of a downgrade in their credit rating if a deal cannot be reached. This week we present our findings of innovation funding from seven states, including $2 million in funding for a new public-private economic development organization in Delaware, an increase in funding in Louisiana for the state’s scholarship program for higher ed, and cuts to higher ed funding in Missouri, which also saw a severe drop in its funding to the Missouri Technology Corporation. Efforts in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington are also detailed below.

Nine states explore science policy fellowships

After training nearly 80 PhD scientists and engineers in the craft of policy making, the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) has awarded planning grants to nine other states to evaluate the potential to create a policy fellowship for scientists and engineers in their state capital. The new one-year grant, which is administered by CCST and funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Simons Foundation, will support teams in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Washington as they work on feasibility studies and other strategic steps toward creating science fellowships in their state policy arenas.

Tech Talkin’ Govs, Part II: CO, GA, SC, VA, WA, WY focus on tech needs, education, more

More governors delivered their state of the state addresses and this week we bring you TBED news from governors around the country. Areas of focus include tech infrastructure needs, diversifying economies, cybersecurity and education. While some governors are giving their inaugural addresses, Gov. Nikki Haley used her time to bid farewell. Following are excerpts from the past week’s addresses.

State budgets addressing TBED initiatives; review of ID, ME, WA

As governors around the country are releasing their proposed budgets, SSTI is examining the proposals for TBED initiatives and will be presenting the findings here. This week Idaho, Maine and Washington are reviewed. Check back in the coming weeks for updates.

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