Western Governors’ News: Montana confronts child hunger, Arizona invests in career training, new governors roll out their plans

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The Western Governors' Association offers a regular roundup of news showcasing the work of Western Governors in economic development, natural resources, education, health and safety, and other areas. Here is what the Western Governors have been working on recently:

ALASKA Gov. Mike Dunleavy requested a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration following the powerful earthquake that struck in November. “My team has been working diligently – with our federal, state and local partners – over the past four weeks to assess damage, rebuild infrastructure and get Alaska back up and running,” said the Governor.

AMERICAN SAMOA Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga emphasized his commitment to fiscal responsibility in an address to legislators. He noted that building financial integrity, “will remain one of our top priorities as we continue our journey towards securing a prosperous future for the coming generations.”

ARIZONA Gov. Doug Ducey announced additional investment in Career and Technical Education to expand his state’s competitive workforce and prepare students for the jobs of tomorrow. The governor’s budget includes incentives for public schools that produce students in high-demand professions and additional resources to build and expand programs at Arizona community colleges.

CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to build affordable housing on excess state lands. “The California Dream is in peril if we don’t act to address this housing crisis,” said Gov. Newsom. “The cost of housing — both for homeowners and renters — is the defining quality-of-life concern for people across this state.”

COLORADO Gov. Jared Polis outlined a plan for statewide full-day kindergarten by this fall. The plan would allow an extra 13,000 children to attend full-day kindergarten and would free up money for districts to spend on other educational purposes.

GUAM Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero signed her first executive order to separate the Chamorro Land Trust Commission and the Guam Ancestral Lands Commission from the Department of Land Management. The move is designed to provide the agencies more autonomy. 

HAWAII Gov. David Ige applauded the winners of the Hawaii Annual Code Challenge, which invites participants to create more effective and efficient government solutions. “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in technology,” said the Governor. “Modernizing how we improve public services has been one of my top priorities since becoming governor.”

IDAHO Gov. Brad Little toured the state to promote his plans for improving education. "We’ve got to have good schools. We've got to give them the skills needed for whether it’s for a career in the CTE field — where we have a lot of work to do, or have them prepared for college," said the Governor.

KANSAS Gov. Laura Kelly delivered a balanced budget to the Kansas Legislature during her first week in office. “I worked diligently to craft a balanced budget that will usher in a new era of shared prosperity and growth. I look forward to lawmakers’ input, and working together to enact it,” said the Governor.

MONTANA Gov. Steve Bullock, along with First Lady Lisa Bullock and Montana No Kid Hungry, announced that more than $70,000 in private grant funding was awarded to 18 schools across Montana to address child food insecurity.

NEVADA Gov. Steve Sisolak established a new Taskforce to Combat and Prevent Sexual Harassment hours after he was sworn into office. He tweeted: “Sexual harassment & discrimination have no place in NV. If we want to make this a reality, our state government & employees must lead the way.”  

NEW MEXICO Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced changes to the state education system by dropping the standardized PARCC exam after this year. A new state-specific assessment system will be created, resulting in “far more teaching and far less testing,” said the Governor.  

NORTH DAKOTA Gov. Doug Burgum joined the national Face to Face initiative encouraging policymakers to engage with people in the correctional system. The partnership will highlight additional treatment needs among people in the criminal justice system.

NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS Gov. Ralph Torres praised the resiliency of the territory’s residents following the devastation of Super Typhoon Yutu.  "In the peaceful times of my childhood, in the difficult days of today, our people are stronger than any storm. We are Marianas Strong," he said.

OKLAHOMA Gov. Kevin Stitt outlined his vision to transform Oklahoma into a “Top Ten” state during his inaugural address. “Oklahoma’s Turnaround also starts with education, and I am fully convinced Oklahoma can have a top ten education system,” said the Governor.

OREGON Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order establishing the Oregon Broadband Office to develop broadband investment and deployment strategies for underserved areas, promote public-private partnerships, support local planning and remove barriers to broadband access. 

SOUTH DAKOTA Gov. Kristi Noem reiterated a commitment to fiscal responsibility during her first budget address as governor. In the speech, the Governor also proposed additional support for nursing homes, education, the outdoors, and addressing the meth epidemic.

UTAH Gov. Gary Herbert proposed a boost to the state’s public defender system, allowing more counties and cities to seek financial help for government-appointed attorneys. The funding would also offer training and other resources for public defenders.

WASHINGTON Gov. Jay Inslee commended the state’s use of technology, which was recognized by The Center for Digital Government in its annual Digital States Survey. “We are making great strides across state government in improving our IT infrastructure, which ultimately means providing better and more efficient services for the people of Washington," said the Governor.

WYOMING Gov. Mark Gordon requested $21 million from the Wyoming Joint Appropriations Committee to diversify the state’s economy, protect wildlife and agriculture lands and better support local governments.

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