Western Governors outline agendas in Inaugural Addresses and 2023 State of the State Addresses

WGA News

Several Western Governors kicked off the New Year by outlining their agendas in Inauguration Speeches and State of the State addresses. 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 23, delivered his 5th State of the State address as the state’s chief executive. His speech outlined his vision for growing the economy by capitalizing on new opportunities for investment and economic growth and building a more secure, independent Alaska. 

Along with expanding the state’s capacity for resource development – including critical minerals and new forms of low and no carbon energy like wave energy, hydrogen, and ammonia – a key aspect of this plan is to create a carbon management system. “Creating a carbon management system,” he said, “represents the means to fund services, to lower the cost of living and improve our quality of life, to create wealth and billions of dollars in economic activity, without taxing each other or eliminating the PFD.”

In the meantime, “my proposed budget funds additional services and initiatives without increasing overall spending. On top of this list, is additional resources for the Healthy Families Initiative, including funds to increase the recruitment and retention of health care professionals, and add support for the state’s battle against tuberculosis (the rate of which in Alaska is nearly three times the national average).

He also proposed funding to help bolster and stabilize the state’s fishing and farming industries. “My vision for the next four years is to build momentum for food security and independence that’s unstoppable,” he said.

To do so he proposed the creation of a Bycatch Review Task Force and the Food Security and Independence Task Force. Together the new departments will provide management recommendations, additional resources for Western Alaska salmon research and the growing mariculture industry, as well as equipment like vegetable washers, flash freezers, and three-phase power that will allow farmers to both add value and make their Alaskan Grown products available year-round.  

Read the full transcript of Gov. Dunleavy’s State of the State Address here, or watch a recording, here.

You can also watch a recording of Gov. Dunleavy’s Inaugural Address, here.

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs, on Jan. 9, focused her first State of the State Address on investing in public education, securing Arizona’s water future, and making the state more affordable.

After being inaugurated as the 24th Governor of the Grand Canyon State on Jan. 2, Hobbs urged lawmakers to act quickly to lift a cap on school spending. She also indicated that she would launch an Educator Retention Task Force and that her first proposed budget would outline “historic” investments in school capital needs like facilities, and more money for community colleges, as well as dual-enrollment programs that help train students who do not attend college. Additional money, she said, would be earmarked for, “hiring social workers and counselors for our schools to address the mental health crisis among children and teens.”

As for improving the state’s affordability, Hobbs said she wants to invest $150 million into a housing trust fund, earmark $50 million to create a child tax credit for families that earn less than $40,000 a year, and exempt diapers and feminine hygiene products from sales tax. 

Finally, Hobbs spoke about the state’s water issues, saying she would launch a Governor’s Office of Resiliency and a Governor’s Water Policy Council to modernize and expand the Arizona Groundwater Management Act. In addition, she outlined the creation of Active Management Areas, which would help cities and towns proactively manage our groundwater and strike a balance between usage and recharging our water table.

Read the full transcript of Gov. Hobbs’ State of the State Address here, or watch a recording, here.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, on March 22, delivered a State of the State letter to the state legislature. It outlined his plans to “set the course for California’s future – remaking our system of public education, building more housing faster, increasing access to affordable, quality health care, protecting our climate, ensuring public safety, and investing in new industries that will change the world we live in, put a new generation of Californian’s to work.”

He wrote about the state’s efforts to leverage the purchasing power of California to reduce the cost of insulin to $30, a strategy he said he would continue to deploy in order to ensure that people, “not go into debt receiving life-saving medication.”  

He also wrote about the need to modernize the state’s Mental Health Services Act to include funding for supportive housing, as well as a new bond measure to increase the number of beds and trained staff available for those struggling with behavioral health or substance misuse issues.

As for the environment, Governor Newsom spoke about the state’s work to build new water infrastructure and replenish groundwater resources, as well as the need to expand public lands in areas that lack access, and fuel the clean energy transition with sustainably sourced lithium.

Read Gov. Newsom's full State of the State letter, here

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, on Jan. 17, used his state of the state address to outline his vision for where the Centennial State would be in three years, the state’s sesquicentennial (150th anniversary).

The key component of this vision was affordability – especially in terms of housing, but also in terms of health care, childcare, education, energy, taxes, and transportation.

“Building smart, efficient housing statewide, especially in urban communities and job centers, won’t just reduce costs, it will save energy, conserve our water, and protect the lands and wildlife that are so important to our Colorado way of life,” he said. “It will also support our vision for public transit, which is to create lower-cost ways to travel that gives Coloradans more choices and leads to more breathable air and less traffic.”

To do so, he proposed “more flexible zoning, streamlined regulations, expedited approval processes for projects like modular housing, sustainable development, and more building in transit-oriented communities.” He also spoke about making parcels of state-owned land available for housing and continuing to reduce property taxes.

He also spoke at length about his plan to reach the state’s goal of generating 100% renewable energy by 2040. To do so he proposed new investments for the “continued development of clean energy technologies of the future like geothermal” – including $120 million annually in new, clean energy tax credits and $9 million for Colorado Mesa University to expand its campus-wide geothermal systems (a facility he toured in September with WGA).

He also proposed new funding for preschools, new tax credits for electric vehicles and e-bikes, expanded fire prevention efforts, new water infrastructure projects, additional support for the Prescription Drug Affordability Board, a new scholarship for graduating high school who pursue postsecondary education, and an expansion of the Care Forward Colorado program to include free training for in-demand fields sectors like construction, firefighting, law enforcement, nursing, and early childhood education.

Read the full transcript of Gov. Hobbs’ State of the State Address here, or watch a recording, here.

You can also watch a recording of Gov. Polis’ Inaugural Address, here.

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, on Jan. 23, delivered his inaugural State of the State address, in which he spoke about his administration’s plans to enact tax breaks, address the crisis of homelessness, diversify the island’s economy, protect its fragile environment, and improve outcomes within is education and health care systems.  

The “top priority” of his administration, he said, is housing. In order to quickly increase supply, he proposed over 1 billion dollars of new investments in housing, fully funding the Department of Hawaiian Homelands, and a state match for city affordable housing programs, along with regulatory reforms outlined in an emergency proclamation on homelessness to streamline the process of construction.

He also proposed additional finds for ‘Ohana zones’, which put homeless individuals into permanent housing, and twelve new Kauhale across our state, which are villages made-up of tiny homes that will meet the housing, social, and healthcare needs of its future residents.  

To further address the island’s issues with affordability (currently twice the national average), Gov. Green proposed $300 million in tax relief, a reform of the tax code to provide for a cost-of-living adjustment in response to recent inflationary pressures, a Renter’s Credit of $350, expanding the Food Excise Tax Credit to a third of taxpayers, and increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit from 20% to 30% of the federal amount.

The “Green Affordability Plan,” as he called it, also proposed expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit so that working families paying for daycare, babysitters, summer camps, after-school care, and adult daycare will be eligible for up to $10,000 of support from the state. Universal pre-k was also raised as a possibility.

In terms of his environmental agenda, he recommended earmarking $100 million for a climate impact fund steered by the Climate Change Mitigation and Adaption Commission. “This includes looking at the resiliency of the power grid, renewable energy, sustainable transportation, land use planning, sea level rise, health, natural and cultural resource impacts, and much more,” he said.

Building out the state’s renewable resources and integrating more hydrogen technology into the grid by becoming a regional hydrogen hub with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, he said, would also help with diversifying its economy, another key aspect of his agenda.

Read the full transcript of Gov. Green’s State of the State Address here, or watch a recording, here.

You can also view the full transcript of Gov. Green’s Inaugural Address here, or watch a recording, here.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little, on Jan. 10, outlined a new long-range plan for the state during the first State of the State Address of his second term. He was officially sworn in for his second term on Jan. 6.

The essence of this new plan, entitled ‘Idaho First,’ is built upon the success of Gov. Little’s previous four years in office and continues to leverage the state’s growing economy to lower taxes and make strategic investments in infrastructure, health care, and education.

“With the winds at our back and a strong mandate from every corner of Idaho, let's work together to translate the people’s vote into action,” he said.

Among other investments in education, Gov. Little’s Idaho First plan outlines the creation of the ‘Idaho Launch scholarship,’ which would provide $8,500 to Idaho’s graduating high school students who attend an Idaho university, community college, career technical, or workforce training program. The plan would also permanently fund the Empowering Parents grant program and increase teacher pay by $6,300.

Along with education funding, the Idaho First plan seeks to make behavioral health services more accessible, add more doctors for rural Idaho, and more healthcare workers overall.

Outside of education and health care, Little’s Idaho First Plan allocates $120 million toward property tax relief and proposed more investments in water quantity and water quality infrastructure to not only reduce the burden on local property taxpayers but also to secure abundant clean water for years to come. Additional funding was also proposed to improve local bridges, as well as transportation safety and capacity.

Read the full transcript of Gov. Little’s State of the State Address here, or watch a recording, here.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, Jan. 24, delivered her State of the State address. Building off of her inaugural address on Jan. 9 in which she spoke about making Kansas the best place to raise a family in the country, she outlined her agenda to reduce taxes, improve early childhood services, conserve water, and continue to expand the state’s economy.

After cutting billions of dollars in taxes last year, Gov.Kelly proposed expanding her “Axing Your Taxes” plan to fully eliminate the sales tax on food, diapers, and feminine hygiene products, creating a four-day window every August in which Kansas families can purchase school supplies free from the state sales tax, raising the taxable income threshold for seniors to $100,000.

“In total,” she said, “the ‘Axing Your Taxes’ plan saves Kansans $500 million over the next three years – and that’s on top of the billion dollars in savings from the tax cuts we passed last year.”

While much of these tax cuts are offset by the Sunflower state’s booming economy that has attracted over $15 billion dollars of new capital investment and created and retained over 54,000 jobs in the last four years, in order to continue growing it must strengthen its workforce.

To do so, Gov. Kelly proposed increased funding for the Office of Registered Apprenticeship, which she created last year to provide Kansans the skills, mentorship, and credentials they need to succeed in everything from energy and healthcare to advanced manufacturing.

Part of developing a stronger workforce, she said, is making sure Kansans have access to mental health care.  To do so her executive budget expands Mental Health Intervention Teams in schools and provides funding for adult psychiatric services in the Wichita area, as well as funding to address the shortage of mental health workers across the state.

However, perhaps the biggest issue facing the state, she said, was water. “Parts of western Kansas have an estimated 10 years left,” she noted. “That’s 10 short years until the water that has powered our booming farming economy dries up.”

To address the problem, she proposed fully funding the State Water Plan for the second year in a row, diverting more money to water projects by paying off other debt early, and working with Kansas producers and irrigators to ensure water quality and quantity.

 Finally, she proposed creating a task force that will explore the creation of a Cabinet-level agency dedicated to early childhood. The agency will be completely focused on improving services for kids during the most critical time of their development.

Read the full transcript of Gov. Kelly’s  State of the State Address here, or watch a recording, here.

You can also read the full transcript of Gov. Kelly’s Inaugural Address, here.

Mariana Islands Gov. Arnold Indalecio Palacios, on Jan. 10, was sworn in as the 10th governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. During his inaugural address, Gov. Palacios spoke about the need to “stabilize the fiscal health of our government,” construct the new school building, and improve the resiliency of communities struck by natural disasters.

Read the full transcript of Gov. Palacios’ Inaugural Address, here.   

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, on Jan. 25, delivered the second State of the State address of his first term. 

After highlighting Montana’s record business creation over the past two years, Gov. Gianforte focused his speech on his administration's efforts to further reduce taxes and streamline permitting for both businesses and housing, while also investing in education, mental health care, and land management.

Along with proposing another round of tax cuts valued at over $1 billion (the largest in state history), Gov. Gianforte also urged the legislature to approve his plan for making Montana debt free in 2023, which he said would save the taxpayers another $40 million. 

As for education, Gov. Gianforte advocated for the passage of the Individualized Education Act, which includes support for work-based learning programs that allow students to get on-the-job experience while earning credits towards their high school graduation requirements, and additional opportunities for remote learning. 

Health care, and especially mental health care, was another pillar of Gov. Gianforte’s State of the State address. He urged the legislature to join the APRN Compact - which allows advanced-practice registered nurses to practice in other compact states.

He also proposed a generational investment to repair the state’s behavioral health care facilities and expanded community-based behavioral health clinics, and a 50 percent increase in funding for the HEART Fund, which helps fund nonprofits and NGOs dedicated to addressing substance misuse.

“Taken together, these measures will build a more robust provider network in Montana and ultimately increase Montanans’ access to health care,” he said. 

To increase the supply of affordable housing, Gov. Gianforte proposed an initiative called the HOMES Program, which will invest $200 million to expand water and sewer infrastructure, $100 million to repair our roads and bridges, and the largest-ever investment in broadband infrastructure – which will bring reliable broadband to 62,000 Montana homes that don’t currently have access.

Gov. Gianforte concluded his State of the State address by discussing the importance of public land to the Montana way of life and proposed $10 million per year to expand the scope of active forest management. 

Read the full transcript of Gov. Gianforte’s State of the State Address here, or watch a recording, here.

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, on Jan. 25, delivered his first State of the State address as the state’s Chief Executive. While Gov. Pillen had already announced that he will allocate $2.5 billion towards education through 2030 and enact major tax cuts, he also spoke about bolstering the state’s workforce and improving the state’s critical infrastructure. 

The top line item in his speech was his plan to invest $390 million into the Property Tax Credit Relief and reduce property taxes by $300 million per year by funding the state’s Community Colleges with the general fund. Additionally, Gov. Pillen proposed $1.5 billion in income tax cuts for individuals, families, businesses, and social security recipients and recommended dropping the individual income and business tax rates to 3.99% by 2027.

Gov. Pillen also pledged to create the Education Future Fund, including a $1 billion investment in the fiscal year 2023-24, with $250 million each following year. Part of that money will go towards improving the state’s special education system and increasing the per-pupil spending by $1,500. Gov. Pillen also proposed $39.4 million to fund more than 4,200 scholarships for Nebraska students who attend in-state higher education institutions.

In terms of infrastructure, Gov. Pillen pledged to fully fund the Perkins County Canal, which has been in the works for the past two decades and will help the state address issues related to drought. He also introduced the Nebraska Broadband Office which will provide broadband access to all of Nebraska and proposed $100 million to help improve the state's bridges and roads.

Finally, to help solve the state’s “workforce challenge,” as he put it, Pillen proposed $20 million for "The Good Life" marketing campaign to help attract outsiders into the state's workforce.

Watch a recording of Gov. Pillen’s State of the State Address, here.

Yo can also read the full transcript of Gov. Pillen’s Inaugural Address here, or watch a recording of the speech, here.

Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo, on Jan. 23, delivered his inaugural State of the State address as the chief executive of the Silver State. His message largely focused on fiscal responsibility, improving outcomes in the state’s education and mental health care systems, and expanding economic opportunities.

With a historic budget surplus coming out of the pandemic, Gov. Lombardo was quick to note that none of the federal funding will be used for recurring projects or initiatives and that his executive budget “reserves more than $1 in savings for every new dollar in general fund spending,” he said. “Fiscal responsibility is the backbone of my budget. And I mean it.”

Despite this fiscally conservative approach, he proposed $2 billion in new funding for education, increasing the per pupil spending by $2,000, as well as $60 million to expand Pre-K opportunities and $730 million to the Education Stabilization Account, a rainy-day fund solely dedicated to K-12, the interest from which will be used to provide scholarships for Nevada high school graduates who attend Nevada colleges or universities or who are willing to teach in Nevada schools for at least five years.

As for higher education, he proposed investing $75 million for the long-term stability of the state’s Millennium Scholarship program; $6 million to continue state support for Promise Scholarships that help Nevada high school graduates attending our community colleges; $65 million in deferred maintenance for aging buildings; an additional $20 million for graduate student stipends and to support research; and $9 million to expand the faculty at UNLV Medical School.

Of course, developing a world-class workforce demands world-class opportunities. In hopes of attracting the world’s best companies, he suggested reducing the business tax rate by 15 percent to 1.17 percent, raising the exemption for businesses subject to the Commerce Tax by 50 percent from $4 million to $6 million, and earmarking $315 million for the Nevada Way Fund, a new sub-account to be used for transformational economic development projects and critical infrastructure needs.

A key aspect of ramping up the state’s growth policies, he said, is that “proceeds from our economic investments must be responsibly reinvested, and we must ensure they are used to address the transportation, education, housing, and public safety demands created by our continued growth.”

That includes funding for six new mental health clinics across the state in underserved areas including northern and rural Nevada, pay increases for public employees, a $400 million investment in broadband to accelerate statewide connectivity, and refurbishing outdated public buildings.

Read the full transcript of Gov. Lombardo’s State of the State Address here, or watch a recording, here.

You can also watch a recording of of Gov. Lombardo’s Inaugural Address, here.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, on Jan. 17, delivered the first State of the State address of her second term, in which she spoke about doubling down on the progress the state has made over the last four years to, “unleash the spirit of opportunity and innovation that is our state’s greatest asset.”

To further the state’s economic growth, Gov. Lujan Grisham called on the legislature to approve $1 billion in economic relief—including rebates of $750 to each taxpayer. She also proposed a tax reform package intended to support New Mexico’s working families and businesses and updating the New Mexico Film Tax Credit to “sustain robust investments in workforce development and job training.”

Of course, continuing to grow the economy, she said, will also require improving the state’s infrastructure. With that in mind, she called for $128 million in water infrastructure improvements and $146 million for statewide broadband expansion.

To address the state’s affordable housing crisis, she proposed $100 million for housing programs, including mobile homelessness response teams, eviction protection, down payment assistance, and investments in the Mortgage Finance Authority.

In terms of improving the state’s health care system, Gov. Lujan Grisham outlined a robust program to move the state “a step closer to universal health care.” Her plan includes $200 million to establish a Rural Health Care Delivery Fund; a mandate for transparency in drug pricing; an expansion of Medicaid Assisted Treatment; additional School-based Health Centers for 25,000 more students; $10 million for a full-service reproductive healthcare center in southern New Mexico, and the creation of the New Mexico Health Care Authority.

Protecting New Mexican’s livelihoods, she said, extends beyond the hospital. To ensure climate resiliency, she proposed $100 million for communities affected by the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fire to begin rebuilding their infrastructure and “launching a $75 million Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund to create sustained funding for state programs that protect our environment, combat issues like drought and water scarcity, and address the roots of climate change.”

She also proposed codifying the state’s zero-emissions goal into state statute, “because there should be no question that New Mexico is committed to a cleaner, healthier future.”

The most important element of unleashing the state’s “spirit of opportunity and innovation,” she said, is education. To expand educational opportunities for all New Mexicans, she proposed half a billion dollars in targeted funding for universal child care; universal and free meals for every student in New Mexico — “along with an additional $20 million investment in school kitchens so they can offer the fresh and nutritious foods our kids need to thrive” – and that the state revamp special education with extended learning time, data-driven services, and extra support for special ed teachers.

She also proposed that New Mexico cover all healthcare premiums for school personnel—and that we give them an additional four percent raise.

Read the full transcript of Gov. Lujan Grisham’s State of the State Address here, or watch a recording, here.

You can also read the full transcript of Gov. Lujan Grisham’s Inaugural Address, here.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, on Jan. 3, addressed a joint session of the 68th Legislative Assembly as part of his 2023 State of the State and called for significant infrastructure investment to help diversify and grow the state’s agriculture and energy industries. He also emphasized the need to address the state’s workforce challenges and provide tax relief to North Dakotans hit by higher costs for food, fuel, and other necessities.

In terms of addressing the state’s workforce shortage, “North Dakota’s No. 1 barrier to economic growth,” Burgum proposed attacking the issue from multiple angles by funding commitments for career academies; supporting child care affordability to increase workforce participation; incentivizing industries to adopt automation; investing in workforce development and recruitment programs; and focusing on community development, including enhancing tourism offerings and doubling down on the successful Renaissance Zone program.

Looking to further expand tourism destinations, Burgum highlighted the executive budget’s request for over $51 million to improve and expand state parks and recreation sites. The budget also proposes a $50 million Destination Development Fund to be matched by private or non-state sources to build or expand unique attractions.

To make the state a more attractive, affordable place to live and better compete for workers, Burgum also urged lawmakers to approve a proposed income tax relief plan that would eliminate the state individual income tax for three out of five taxpayers and create the lowest flat-rate individual income tax in the nation.

As for the economy, Burgum highlighted the role that carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) has in creating a sustainable path forward for the agriculture and energy industries. Burgum also called on lawmakers to increase individual farming freedoms for non-relatives to pool their resources to start or expand livestock operations by relaxing the state’s anti-corporate farming law, similar to exemptions that exist for animal agriculture under South Dakota’s law.

“Let’s take the handcuffs off our ranchers and livestock producers. Let’s allow animal agriculture to flourish in North Dakota once again. We need Farm Freedom legislation, and we need it now,” Burgum said.

Read the full transcript of Gov. Burgum’s State of the State address here, or watch a recording, here.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, on Feb. 6, delivered the first State of the State address of his second term. His speech focused on three main areas: education, the economy, and public safety, and with a $4 billion savings account and a $1.8 billion surplus heading into the 2023 legislative session, “We have done the hard work to be fiscally prudent,” he said. “We can now dream big.”

In terms of education, Gov. Stitt proposed the creation of Education Savings Accounts and The Innovation School Fund to help expand school choice, as well as performance-based pay raises for teachers. He also discussed the need to reform the state’s Career Tech funding model and ensure its higher education programs partner with companies so that students are better prepared to join the workforce and propel the state’s economy into the future.

Aside from bolstering the workforce, Gov. Stitt’s said the key to retaining Oklahoma’s spot as a top 10 state for economic growth, is expanding the state’s energy portfolio, modernizing its infrastructure, and cutting taxes.

As for energy, Gov. Stitt said, “let’s continue to diversify our energy grid and embrace our “More of Everything” approach,” which includes his administration’s efforts to make Oklahoma one of the nation’s Hydrogen hubs.   

He also said his administration would continue “to promulgate our budding reputation as the regional hub for Advanced Mobility and unmanned aircraft,” and to “make investments in our fastest growing industry: aerospace and defense.”

Continued investments in the state’s roads, bridges, hospitals, and broadband networks, he said, were also critical to securing the state’s economic future.

While improving the education system, diversifying Oklahoma’s energy portfolio, and modernizing its infrastructure will take years, in the short term, Gov. Stitt said, the best way to continue the state’s momentum is by using its surplus to eliminate Oklahoma’s state grocery tax and reduce our personal income tax rate to 3.99%.

“With our fiscal discipline, economic growth, and record savings, let’s make a significant statement that Oklahoma is here to stay on the national stage,” he said. “The time is now… Let’s cut taxes!”

Read the full transcript of Gov. Stitt's State of the State address here, or watch a recording, here.

You can also read the full transcript of Gov. Stitt’s Inaugural Address, here.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek, on Jan. 9, was sworn in as the 39th Governor of the Beaver State. During her Inaugural Address at the state Capitol in Salem, said she would declare a homeless state of emergency and sign an executive order to increase housing construction on her first full day in office. She also proposed a $130 million emergency investment to help unsheltered people move off the streets.

Her remarks also focused on the Kotek Administration’s commitment to increase accountability and improve access to services for all Oregonians.

“Imagine an Oregon where every child has a safe place to receive a high-quality public education, and every working family has access to affordable childcare,” she said. “Imagine an Oregon where everyone has financial stability and pathways to greater opportunity. Where all Oregonians feel safe in their homes and communities…That's an Oregon worth fighting for, and today is a new beginning."

Read the full transcript of Gov. Kotek’s Inaugural Address here, or watch a recording, here.

Kotek’s State of the State address has yet to be scheduled.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, on Jan. 10, delivered the first State of the State Address of her second term. Her speech focused on the economic growth the state experienced under her leadership and how that growth can help fund important programs such as universal paid leave, new apprenticeship programs, and better childcare.   

Building upon a paid-leave program that the legislature approved last year, Gov. Noem proposed that paid leave be extended to 100% of salary for 12 weeks and cover caring for a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition, or a situation where a spouse is called to active-duty military service.

To help make this benefit available to more South Dakotans, Gov. Noem also proposed allowing private sector companies to be a part of the state’s risk pool and provide $20 million in grants to incentivize private sector companies to participate.

She also announced that her administration will complete an overhaul of South Dakota’s childcare rules and regulations and release $40 million in federal grants for childcare providers.

To help make up for lost educational opportunities during the pandemic, Gov. Noem outlined the “Stronger Families Scholarship” program, which will provide any child in the foster care system with up to $4,000 in scholarship to help pay tuition at a private school, pay for tutoring or teaching services, purchase curriculum, pay for standardized tests or AP exams, and more. 

Read the full transcript of Gov. Noem’s State of the State Address here, or watch a recording, here.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, on Jan. 19, specifically directed his State of the State address to the next generation of Utahns (he encouraged legislators to bring their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews etc.) saying, “if there is one message that I could give to you, it is this: The future of our state is not written in the stars. It is for us, the free men and women of Utah, to dictate our destiny. To anyone who believes that the next generation in Utah will be worse off than their parents, my message is simple: not now, not on our watch.” 

To this end, he outlined five key policy platforms on which to help the state flourish for generations to come: education, the environment, affordable housing, and taxes.

As for education, Gov. Cox emphatically proposed increases in teacher pay. “The largest variable in student outcomes is the quality of the teacher,” he said. “And if we want to guarantee that we have the best teachers, we must invest in our teachers.”

He also spoke about state efforts to protect the Great Salt Lake, along with all of the state’s water resources. While the Utah legislature passed 12 "major water conservation bills and $500 million in new funding," last year, he implores the state’s lawmakers “to maintain a continued focus on water conservation and agriculture optimization," and proposed another $500 million in water conservation investment, as well as new policy changes to reduce use.

Much like many of his colleagues, he also spoke about affordable housing and the need to build “smart density” that can increase the housing supply while also maintaining the quality of life in the Beehive State.  

Finally, he spoke about the need to provide Utahans some tax relief in the face of historic inflation. “My philosophy is simple. I believe that Utah families can spend this surplus better than we can. And so I am proposing a historic $1 billion in tax relief for Utah families. While almost all of the levers of inflation are outside our state’s control, we can and must enable Utahns to keep more of their hard-earned dollars to combat the rising cost of living.”  

Watch a recording of Gov. Cox’s State of the State Address, here. You can also view photos from the event here. 

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, on Jan. 10, delivered his first in-person State of the State Address since 2020. Heading into the 2023 Legislative Session, Gov. Inslee called on Washington’s state legislators to address the “homelessness crisis; reverse social and economic disparities; to educate our children and serve those in foster care; to fund our transportation system; and to protect our salmon and orca.”  

To do so, Gov. Inslee outlined a supplemental budget that includes an $815 million investment in safe housing for those experiencing homelessness and to create more options for those struggling with housing availability. It would also increase behavioral health services and provide $80 million to pay providers for housing and supporting foster youth with complex needs. “We must provide rapid supportive housing as soon as possible, this year,” he said.

Using recommendations for a Poverty Reduction Workgroup, Gov. Inslee’s budget also creates a $125 million reinvestment fund to address economic and social disparities.

As for education, Gov. Inslee proposed reinvesting $900 million to help schools address students’ critical needs, including an increase in the number of school counselors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers available to serve K-12 students.

Gov. Inslee also proposed $626 million for reducing emissions by modernizing buildings and making electric vehicles more affordable. “We must act now to give Washingtonians more efficiencies and to decarbonize our homes, apartments, offices, retail spaces, and more,” he said.

With one-time and new federal funds – along with state money – he said Washington has “a unique opportunity” to provide nearly $1 billion to fund clean transportation programs and activities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, including critical investments to improve ferry service reliability and $324 million to support ferry electrification.

Finally, Gov. Inslee proposed $187 million for salmon recovery. “We must restore the green corridors along rivers and streams known as riparian habitat, which keeps the water clean and cool. Our legislation sets a unique ecological blueprint for each river and stream habitat to conserve and restore these critical lands.”

Read the full transcript of Gov. Inslee’s State of the State Address here, or watch a recording here.

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, on Jan 11, addressed the 67th legislature in his State of the State Address and highlighted multiple fronts on which to focus this year, including addressing inflation, investing in mental health services, and extending the state’s property tax relief program.

While these efforts will be boosted by a nearly $1 billion surplus generated by high gas and oil prices last year, Gov. Gordon also noted that Wyoming must continue to innovate to remain fiscally stable and create a foundation on which Wyoming can continue to grow.

“Our expertise in resource management, advanced carbon innovation, energy security, value-added agriculture, and fiscal prudence makes us a leader in all these areas,” he said.  

To do so, the Governor called for support to increase funding for the Energy Matching Fund, which is meant to spur innovation and transformative projects. 

Gov. Gordon also spoke about the need to ensure Wyoming’s youth receive a world-class education capable of preparing them for the 21st Century job market.

“Now is a critical time for education,” he said. “We must be bold and take action. If you are as passionate about retaining our youth and home-grown talent as I am, then you must be open to new educational opportunities.”

Read the full transcript of Gov. Gordon’s State of the State Address here, or watch a recording here.

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