Western Governors deliver 2016 State of the State addresses

Western Governors have delivered their 2016 State of the State addresses. We created a "word cloud" of the most common themes in the speeches, and following is a synopsis of them.


Bill Walker called for bold action during his State of the State address on Jan. 21, 2016. Nathaniel Herz of the Alaska Dispatch News reported that Gov. Walker urged lawmakers "to plug the hole in Alaska’s sinking financial ship by approving the three major pieces of his budget plan: budget cuts, new taxes, and spending some of the Permanent Fund’s earnings." The governor acknowledged that his drastic proposals may potentially come at a political cost to him. “I did not run for governor to keep the job,” he said. “I ran for governor to do the job.” Gov. Walker also, however, was optimistic about areas of potential growth, such as agriculture, resource development and tourism. Read the full speech


Doug Ducey delivered his State of the State address on Jan. 11, 2016. Gov. Ducey focused on the positive impacts of his first year in office, touting the state as "on the rise." The Arizona Republic reports that the governor reiterated his campaign promises, "again promising tax cuts, education reform, looser regulations and an effort to reduce the number of people reliant on state government." His call for education funding reform was met with a standing ovation. He also expressed frustration that Arizona requires too many licenses for too many jobs, including talent agents, noting: "Let’s leave the job of finding new talent to Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani – not state government."  Read the full speech


Jerry Brown delivered his State of the State address on Jan. 21, 2016. In what Los Angeles Times reporter John Myers called "a short speech with a long view of California," Gov. Brown touched on themes that included the budget, income inequality, deteriorating infrastructure, drought and climate goals. The governor said Californians will need to "bite the bullet" on new taxes to fund long-term infrastructure maintenance costs. "Ideology and politics stand in the way, but one way or another the roads must be fixed," Gov. Brown said. Read the full speech


John Hickenlooper delivered his State of the State address on Jan. 14, 2016. The governor set the stage for his speech with a pragmatic tone the Denver Post called, "classic Hickenlooper," and called for lawmakers to work together to solve budget and housing issues. Gov. Hickenlooper urged, "Let's strive, I mean really try, to be more bipartisan this session." He also emphasized that the state would need to continue adapting and innovating to keep its economy on top, joking, "We don’t need a Delorean time machine to know that change is coming." Read the full speech


David Ige delivered his State of the State address on Jan. 25, 2016. The Honolulu Civil Beat reports that "the governor identified issues that he said had been neglected but could wait no longer for action," including making classrooms cooler, revitalizing infrastructure, and creating a Hawaii Invasive Species Authority. Gov. Ige also made a big push for affordable housing projects to address increasing concerns about homelessness, emphasizing, "You cannot talk about homelessness without talking about the major reason why it has become so widespread.  And that is the lack of affordable housing." The governor also spoke to the importance of value-based actions for government and citizens, reminding, "When we demean others we betray ourselves." Read the full speech


Gov. Butch Otter focused on school funding in his joint State of the State and Budget address on Jan. 11, 2016. Gov. Otter said: "We are entrusted with the singular constitutional responsibility of providing for a 'general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools throughout Idaho,'" before proposing significant increases in education spending. The Associated Press reported that the governor's speech  featured several new higher-education initiatives, including a college tuition freeze program to ensure that incoming freshman would pay the same rate for four academic years. Read the full speech


Sam Brownback focused on high-profile state issues such as education spending in his State of the State speech on Jan. 12, 2016. Stephen Koranda of Kansas Public Radio reported that Gov. Brownback "laid the groundwork in his speech by referencing what he and lawmakers had done in Kansas in recent years. He touted tax policy, the unemployment rate and job growth." The governor also touched on the future of the state's water supply, calling the issue "one of the biggest challenges" Kansas faces. Read the full speech


Pete Ricketts established property tax relief as his top priority in his State of the State address on Jan. 14, 2016. His other policy focuses in the coming year include increased transportation infrastructure funding and additional prison reform. Don Walton of the Lincoln Journal Star reported that the governor proposed state budget adjustments that would fund these initiatives without taking any money from the state's "rainy day" cash reserve fund. Gov. Ricketts also promised that his administration is working to "ensure a new level of transparency and accountability for taxpayers." Read the full speech

New Mexico

Susana Martinez set forth a sweeping agenda during her State of the State address on Jan. 19, 2016. Gov. Martinez called on lawmakers to get tougher on crime and to implement her education and economic development proposals. Dan Boyd of the Albuquerque Journal reported that the governor's speech "focused heavily on a recent spate of high-profile crimes" and urged stricter anti-DWI laws and expansion of the state’s 'three-strikes' law for repeat offenders. Her speech also implored lawmakers to "demand more than mediocrity in education." Read the full speech


Mary Fallin delivered her State of the State address on Feb. 1, 2016. Curtis Killman of the Tulsa World reported that "there was no mistaking the theme" of Gov. Fallin's speech: the budget. The governor addressed the urgent need to improve the state’s budgeting process to ensure adequate funding for education, public safety, health and more. Gov. Fallin especially focused on education, calling for a pay raise for teachers and proclaiming, “Oklahoma’s future sits in the classrooms of today. The education of our students remains my biggest priority in my budget." Lowering mandatory drug possession sentences and creating a high consumption tax on cigarettes were also highlighted. Read the full speech


Kate Brown delivered her State of the State address on April 8, 2016. She touted the state's economic progress, including the recently increased minimum wage, and urged lawmakers to pass her comprehensive transportation package. Gordon Friedman of the Statesman Journal reported that Gov. Brown announced Oregon has hit a record low unemployment rate, but "added that state government must continue to seek economic opportunities for Oregonians, especially those in rural counties." Gov. Brown proclaimed, "The sun has definitely come out from behind the clouds of a protracted economic downturn." Read the full speech

South Dakota

Dennis Daugaard delivered his State of the State address on Jan. 12, 2016. He asked lawmakers to approve a half-cent sales tax to help make teacher pay more competitive. Dana Ferguson of the Argus Leader reported that Gov. Daugaard also "spotlighted the state's successes — and the work yet to be done — on issues including criminal justice, workforce development and state parks." On workforce development, the governor said, "We all  understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint. It needs constant attention." Read the full speech


Gary Herbert delivered his State of the State address on Jan. 27, 2016. Gov. Herbert touted Utah's economy and encouraged even more progress. "The state of our state is strong," he said, "and I think most of us would say the state of our state is outstanding. That being said, I believe we can do even better." Robert Gehrke of the Salt Lake Tribune reported that the governor called on lawmakers "to do more to address health care for low-income residents, to improve air quality and to help provide opportunities in rural Utah." Gov. Herbert also focused on education, challenging school employees to work to raise the state's graduation rate to 90%. Read the full speech


Jay Inslee addressed a number of pressing issues in his State of the State address on Jan. 12, 2016, including education, mental health, wildfires and minimum wage. Gov. Inslee said that it’s “absolutely necessary” for lawmakers to develop a framework to pay for the state’s basic education system during the legislative session. On the necessity of recruiting and training more teachers, Gov. Inslee said, "If nobody is standing in front of the classroom, we have zip." Joseph O’Sullivan of the Seattle Times reported that the governor urged lawmakers returning for the legislative session to "approach the problems 'with recognition of the depths of our challenges, and with confidence that together we can solve them.'" (Read the full speech


Matt Mead focused on the budget, Medicaid and infrastructure during his State of the State address on Feb. 8, 2016. Gov. Mead especially highlighted the need to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, a move that would offer health insurance coverage to 20,000 low-income adults in the state. Laura Hancock of the Casper Star-Tribune reported these are "people who typically delay health care until it warrants a visit to the emergency room. That can result in higher costs for hospitals and worse outcomes for patients." Read the full speech

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