Western Governors deliver 2018 State of the State addresses

The West

Western Governors’ State of the State Addresses scheduled this year have been delivered, below is a roundup of the speeches in 2018. The word cloud above, created by WGA, highlights the most common themes used throughout the governors’ addresses. 

Alaska Gov. Walker called on lawmakers to confront fiscal challenges during his fourth State of the State address on Jan. 18. The governor also focused on the past year’s accomplishments, including the return of child welfare services for Alaska Native children to their tribes and communities, improving access to healthcare, unveiling a public safety action plan and combatting the opioid epidemic. “Even with the challenges ahead, I remain the eternal optimist, and there is good reason for optimism,” Governor Walker said. “We have all the tools to control our own destiny and build a safer, smarter, stronger Alaska.” Watch the speech and read the transcript. 

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey called on state leaders to come together around common policy goals, including combatting the opioid epidemic, increasing education funding, expanding economic opportunities and securing the state’s water future on Jan. 8. Emphasizing the theme “Spirit of Service”, Gov. Ducey called for bipartisanship saying, “By working together, with a spirit of service; with integrity, humility – by forgetting about who should get the credit – we can move Arizona forward, and in a way that will make our fellow citizens proud.” Watch the speech and read the transcript.

California Gov. Jerry Brown delivered his 16th and final State of the State address on Jan. 25, asserting the "bolder path is still our way forward.” The Governor focused on recent natural disasters, thanking wildfire and mudslide first responders and encouraging vigilance in the future. “We have to be ready with the necessary firefighting capability and communication systems to warn residents of impending danger. We also have to manage our forests -- and soils -- more intelligently.” The speech also featured accomplishments related to climate change, infrastructure investment, healthcare, education and criminal justice. Read the transcript.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper touted the Centennial State’s strong economic recovery over the past seven years during his final State of the State address on Jan. 11. The Denver Post reported “He praised the bipartisan successes of a year ago on issues ranging from hospital funding to construction defects reform” and called it “the “most impactful, bipartisan legislative session since the Great Recession.” (Story). Gov. Hickenlooper also addressed healthcare, expanding rural development programs, education and increasing workforce opportunities saying, “We need to transition from a degree-based education system to skills-based training.” Watch the speech, and read the transcript.

WGA Vice Chair Hawaii Gov. David Ige emphasized a commitment to youth and talent retention in remarks delivered on Jan. 22, saying “My personal goal – the goal to which I have dedicated my service as governor— is creating a Hawaii that gives all our children the choice to live here.” Installing air conditioning in 1,200 classrooms, supporting STEM education and launching the state’s inaugural “hackathon” for amateur coders were among the education accomplishments noted in the governor’s fourth State of the State Address. The Governor also noted efforts to diversify the economy, build affordable housing, and continue to reduce the state’s homelessness rate. Read the transcript.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter identified healthcare and ensuring that employers have enough educated and skilled workers to meet the needs of the state’s growing economy among the Idaho’s top priorities on Jan. 8. “Because of the work we have done over more than a decade, we have never been readier for the challenges and opportunities ahead,” Governor Otter told the Idaho Legislature, other State leaders and a statewide audience during his 12th and final State of the State and Budget Address at the Idaho Capitol. Read the transcript. 

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback delivered remarks on Jan. 9 focused on education as a top priority, saying, “I dream that education in the state is tailored to each student’s needs and desires. So that that student has the maximum chance to succeed. That we have more educational options for each K-12 student like we do now for higher education students.” Gov. Brownback also presented bold five-year goals of achieving a 95% statewide graduation rate, and subsequently, that 75% of students go on to pursue some form of higher education or military service. Read the transcript.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts delivered his fourth State of the State address on Jan. 10 with an emphasis on job growth. The Governor, recognizing the impact of high business friendliness rankings by Forbes and Chief Executive Magazine, said: “Folks, this matters because when companies move here and invest, they create job opportunities for our people.” Additional emphasis was placed on balancing the state’s budget, which will include targeted funding for K-12 education, corrections, and services for the developmentally disabled. Read the transcript.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez praised the state’s educational reforms in her address delivered on delivered on Jan. 16, noting “our graduation rate remains at an all-time high of 71 percent.”  Gov. Martinez still called for continued improvement, saying: “We need to fund reforms that are getting results. That means expanding our teacher and principal mentoring programs, anti-truancy efforts, and early reading interventions.” Creating a more business-friendly environment, reducing crime, infrastructure projects and balancing the state budget were also prominent themes. The Governor concluded her final State of the State by saying “may we work together, tirelessly, to leave behind a diverse and growing economy, a quality education system, and a safe community for every New Mexico child.” Read the transcript.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum reflected on the state’s challenges and accomplishments during his first year in office in remarks delivered on Jan. 23. Those accomplishments included improving tribal relations, increasing energy production, bringing attention to behavioral health and addiction issues, launching a higher education governance task force and supporting farmers and ranchers affected by extreme drought. Working off a mission statement to “empower people, improve lives and inspire success,” Gov. Burgum encouraged innovation from the private sector. “The State of the State is one of unlimited promise and potential, provided we embrace change, diversify our economy and harness the unstoppable forces of technology.” Read more about the address and watch the speech.

Oklahoma Gov. Mark Fallin declared balancing the state budget will be a top priority during her remaining time in office during her final State of the State Address on Feb. 5. Gov. Fallin pushed lawmakers, who are concurrently working in a special session and a regular legislative session, to address a $215 million budget hole. “The time to act is now. No more delaying. No more putting things off. No more kicking the can down the road. No more addressing long-term budget problems with short-term solutions,” she said. “That is why we were elected – to lead, roll up our sleeves, get to work, solve problems, and find solutions.” Read the transcript. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown homed in on job growth and career readiness in remarks delivered on Feb. 5. Gov. Brown debuted her plan to improve economic opportunities for job-seekers through “Future Ready Oregon,” which will support career technical education, incentivize rural construction, create high-tech apprenticeships and more. “My vision is of an Oregon where we increase economic prosperity and do it in a way that ensures prosperity is inclusive,” Gov. Brown said. “By working together, we can ensure that economic prosperity reaches every single corner of the state.” Read the transcript.

WGA Chair South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard began his final State of the State address on Jan. 9 with an overview of the Western Governors’ Workforce Development Initiative. On the topic of education and workforce readiness, Gov. Daugaard said “We need to change the notion that apprenticeships are confined to the construction trades.” Encouraging job shadowing and work-based learning in high-demand fields such as cybersecurity, Gov. Daugaard emphasized the impact of dual-credit and apprenticeship programs in South Dakota, and opportunities to continue to grow the state’s workforce. Watch the speech and read the transcript. 

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert praised the accomplishments of Utahns, working together to solve problems such as homelessness, in his State of the State Address delivered on Jan. 24. Working together “has already broken up drug trafficking, reduced crime, cleaned up our streets and parks, increased treatment services and provided job opportunities.” Infrastructure, tax-codes and a new task force to address teen suicide were also featured. Watch the speech and read the transcript.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee highlighted the state’s business climate in his speech delivered on Jan. 9 saying, “our economy is strong, our future is bright, but there are always new heights to reach, new challenges to overcome and persistent wrongs to right.” Funding school construction, housing and mental health services and expanding youth apprenticeship opportunities were among the issues that will take center stage in Washington’s coming legislative session. Read the transcript.  

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead spoke out in protection of funding for education and social services in his final State of the State Address delivered on Feb. 12, saying “while we look to find savings, we should do nothing that lessens Wyoming’s long held view on the value of a great education.” Tourism, reducing the size of state government, resisting federal overreach and an update on the Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) program were also featured. “When I mention opportunities on the horizon, ENDOW is on top of the list. With the department report now in hand, I ask that the recommendations of the ENDOW executive council be funded in full.” Watch the speech.

No Remarks

State of the State addresses in Montana, Nevada and Texas are delivered only when the legislature is in session. As the states do not have a regular session in 2018, there will be no address.  

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