- Policy Platforms
Several Western Governors are delivering State of the State addresses in 2022. Below is a roundup of the speeches delivered so far; the word cloud above represents common issues included in the addresses.
ALASKA Gov. Mike Dunleavy, on Jan. 25, focused his state of the state speech on opportunities for Alaska to become a self-sustaining economic hub that attracts people from all over the world. Whether it’s boosting its already strong tourism, fishing and shipping industries, or bolstering its bourgeoning renewable energy and technology industries, “I envision an Alaska that is a worldwide leader in technology, in unmanned aircraft systems, and in the critical minerals needed to power the technology of today and tomorrow,” Gov. Dunleavy, said. With growing revenues, “we could see revenue in the current year increase by more than $281 million over the fall forecast and by $466 million in the upcoming fiscal year,” Gov. Dunleavy proposed the state could “build a stronger, more durable health care system in Alaska that can respond to most any situation.” It could also address issues of food insecurity and fully fund education, including school bond debt reimbursement and university scholarships.
ARIZONA Gov. Doug Ducey, on Jan. 10, spoke about the strength of the state’s rebounding economy, the resulting multi-billion-dollar surplus and how those funds can be leveraged for the betterment of all Arizonans. “Today, our state revenue is growing at an even faster rate than the so-called experts predicted,” he said. With the additional funds, he outlined plans to invest in educational programs designed to catch kids up on the learning they lost out on during the COVID-19 Pandemic. “We will lead the way to eliminate learning loss,” he said. He also spoke about securing the state’s water resources with a $1 billion investment in water infrastructure, part of which will go towards a desalination project. “Instead of just talking about desalination – the technology that made Israel the world’s water superpower – how about we pave the way to make it actually happen?”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, on March 8, spoke about the Golden State’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and how his administration is working to expand programs that help build resilient communities. Among those proposals were tapping one of the world’s largest lithium reserves to secure a critical component of the supply chain for batteries and electric vehicles. “Clean energy is this generation’s greatest economic opportunity,” he said. The Governor also proposed expanding health care to all citizens and further developing the state’s comprehensive homeless programs to get “people off the streets, out of tents, and into housing and treatment.” He even spoke about the creation of transitional kindergarten for all, which would include nine hours of enrichment a day with true universal before- and after-school programs, expanded summer school, universal school meals, and free community college.
COLORADO Gov. Jared Polis, on Jan. 13, focused his state of the state address on making the state more affordable and maintaining strong communities by investing in health care, education and housing. “Saving Coloradans money and keeping our state affordable is my top priority during this legislative session,” he said. A key part of that plan will be creating affordable housing using funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act. He also spoke about the strategies to address the state’s mental and behavioral health issues including “more integrated physical and mental health services,” and “bolstering our often-overworked behavioral health workforce.” In terms of education, Gov. Polis outlined a “historic investment in kindergarten through 12th-grade education,” which will increase per-pupil funding by roughly $12,000 to 13,000 per classroom and support smaller class sizes and enhanced pay for teachers.
HAWAII Gov. David Ige, on Jan. 24, spoke about initiatives to improve the Aloha State’s health care infrastructure, provide universal childcare, increase housing affordability, expand broadband access and support local business development – especially in regard to sustainable agriculture. “In the first year of the pandemic, we were forced to cut over a billion dollars from the budget, with every state agency scrambling to find new ways to continue to provide essential services to our residents,” he said. Now, with tax collections 27% over last year’s totals, “For the first time in a long time, we have the resources to take care of both our immediate and long-term needs. We can rebuild the solid fiscal foundation that we created before the pandemic. We also have a chance to pursue new initiatives.”
IDAHO Gov. Brad Little, on Jan. 10, reflected on the strength of Idaho’s economy and state budget before detailing his LEADING IDAHO plan to make strategic investments in education, infrastructure and behavioral health. “I propose making the largest investment in Idaho education, ever,” he said. “And it all starts with literacy… Adding these investments now will increase state literacy funding five-fold since I took office just three years ago.” He also outlined a $400 million investment in the state’s transportation infrastructure. “The continued prosperity of our farmers, ranchers and the folks who work in the woods depends on a safe, efficient system of roads and bridges. We cannot continue our record economic trajectory if our logging trucks can’t get across old bridges or we can’t get our farm products to market.” Finally, he announced a $50 million allocation to enhance access to behavioral health resources.
KANSAS Gov. Laura Kelly, on Jan. 11, focused her state of the state address on how she and the legislature can use “the largest budget surplus in the past 40 years,” to ease financial burdens and continue to develop businesses by enacting such measures as eliminating the state grocery tax and freezing college tuition increases. By responsibly budgeting, Kelly also announced that the State Water Plan will be fully funded for the first time in 15 years and that funding for several major infrastructure projects has been secured to help ensure “a thriving farming economy” – one that surpassed “the $4 billion-dollar mark in exports for the second consecutive year. A feat not accomplished in nearly a decade.” With the additional revenue, Kelly also announced $50 million in Learning Recovery Grants to help students close the learning gap.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, on Feb. 23, announced several proposals, including unprecedented investments in housing, education and infrastructure, that are designed to set the foundation for stronger, more resilient communities as COVID-19 continues to recede. During the off-year State of the State address, Gov. Sisolak also announced that Nevada will join the Northwest Prescription Drug Consortium to help lower the costs of healthcare, as well as the creation of a Healthcare Workforce Committee to address the state’s shortage of nurses, healthcare technicians and doctors. He closed his speech by highlighting the state’s economic momentum and outlined a plan to continue that growth and develop more resilient communities by investing in clean energy. “With more sunshine than just about any state in the nation, Nevada is on the way to becoming the leading clean-energy economy in America,” he said.
NEW MEXICO Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, on Jan. 18, spoke about giving every single educator in this state a 7% raise this year, eliminating taxes on social security, delivering an additional $230 million in rent and utility assistance, and building “the intellectual infrastructure of a nationally competitive state economy” alongside a clean hydrogen industry. She also proposed a “dramatic expansion of the state program that directly supports caregivers,” “an unprecedented suite of new affordable housing programs,” a $120 million upgrade for the Veterans Hospital, and a new “Rural Health Care Delivery Fund” that will provide bridge financing to communities in need of new or updated health care facilities. “We can do it all,” she said. “We have the finances… Big things are within our reach, and blue skies are ahead – and hopefully some snow, too.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, on Feb. 16, called for bold action and investments in infrastructure and career and technical education centers along with the creation of a $700 million revolving loan fund to provide low-cost financing for future projects without raising taxes. “We have a historic opportunity to invest in infrastructure, diversify the economy, build healthy, vibrant communities, support research and innovation, transform government and build true legacy projects for the prosperity of North Dakotans for generations to come,” Gov. Burgum said. To bolster the state’s education system he asked the Legislature, the North Dakota University System, and the State Board of Higher Education to study and develop a permanent Higher Education Stabilization and Transformation Fund. He also highlighted progress on the new Unified Spill Reporting System, a one-stop reporting system for hazardous materials spills, that will allow state agencies to better “protect North Dakota’s water, air and soil,” and proposed additional investments in behavioral health services and upgrading information technology systems.
OKLAHOMA Gov. Kevin Stitt, on Feb. 7, spoke about the state’s economic growth, including the lowest unemployment rate in state history, and outlined several proposals designed to bolster this trend. “The future of our economy will depend on having a modern highway system that manages congestion and has reliable travel times,” he said. With that in mind, he announced plans to invest $13 billion in transportation infrastructure over the next 10 years, including drone corridors and emerging mobility. In terms of education, Gov. Stitt proposed matching funds for teachers’ salaries so they “can make six figure salaries and stay in the classroom.” He also proposed to “modernize our tax code” by creating a taxpayer protection plan that responsibly lowers income taxes according to state revenue as well as eliminating the grocery tax and income taxes on military retirement benefits.
OREGON Gov. Kate Brown, on Feb 3, highlighted key policy and budget initiatives focused on helping the state’s working families continue to recover from COVID-19, including a $200 million investment in workforce development and career training, a $400 million investment in affordable housing, and $100 million for childcare. “These three investments work together to ensure every working family can thrive," she said. Gov. Brown also discussed a recent agreement her administration helped broker between Oregon’s timber and environmental industries to update the Forest Practices Act, which “will ensure Oregon continues to have healthy forests, fish and wildlife, as well as economic growth for our forest industry and rural communities,” she said.
SOUTH DAKOTA Gov. Kristi Noem, on Jan. 11, highlighted the fact that the state’s revenues are $116 million above adopted legislative estimates and proposed the influx of money be used to help address issues of education and mental health via expanded telehealth options and new programs like the Future Workforce Finder tool and Jobs for America’s Graduates, among others. “We are partnering with adult education providers across the state to offer more options for adults to achieve their GED, to help them in their career,” she said. “And South Dakota’s jobs market continues to be a national leader as a result.” She also highlighted her administration’s efforts to improve water and soil quality and enhance opportunities for outdoor recreation via The Second Century Initiative. “We have added more than 10,000 acres of habitat for our wildlife, created additional public access for fishing and hunting and completed hundreds of habitat improvement projects on existing public lands,” which helped bring a record 8.5 million visitors to the South Dakota’s State parks.
UTAH Gov. Spencer Cox, on Jan. 19, spoke about the state’s nation-leading growth over the last year and how he plans to leverage the state’s position to attract more business while maintaining the “Utah Way.” Along with proposing “more than $970 million in education funding,” which would include pay raises for all teachers, he focused his speech on issues of water security, affordable housing, air quality and infrastructure improvements. “Our state is in its strongest fiscal condition ever with the largest rainy day fund, lowest unemployment and largest budget surplus in our state’s history,” he said. “And with the strongest economy in the nation, we have a generational opportunity to invest in infrastructure,” including 26 new policy initiatives from the state’s Unified Economic Opportunity Commission. With 28 of the world’s 35 most critical minerals found in the Beehive State, Gov. Cox also spoke about how the state “can show the country and the world how to responsibly harness the power of our precious natural resources while being wise and protective stewards of this land that we cherish.”
WASHINGTON Gov. Jay Inslee, on Jan. 11, used his state of the state speech to highlight several “unique opportunities” where he and his administration can effectively “reverse social and economic disparities” and protect the environment. His plan included “an unprecedented $815 million investment in safe housing for those experiencing homelessness and to create more options for those struggling with housing availability.” He also proposed “reinvesting $900 million to help schools address students’ critical needs,” including increasing the number of school counselors, nurses, psychologists and social workers available to serve K-12 students. He ended his speech speaking about the importance of protecting the environment and proposed a plan to develop “a unique ecological blueprint for each river and stream habitat” and $324 million to support ferry electrification.
Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, on Feb. 14, called for the Cowboy state to embrace new opportunities and innovation in education, economic development and energy. “Innovation, not regulation, is our way forward to give our nation the energy it requires and simultaneously solve the world's climate concerns,” he said as he proposed an all-of-the-above energy policy that includes $100 million to use as matching funds for Wyoming energy projects. Gov. Gordon also emphasized the need to address Wyoming’s Emergency Medical System, bolster the state’s outdoor recreation economy, and invest in the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust as well as retention policies for state employees. To help reach these goals, he also outlined two major initiatives – the Wyoming Innovation Partnership (WIP) and the Reimagining and Innovating the Delivery of Education (RIDE) Advisory Group.