State of the States 2017: The Future Is Automation

STEM education, broadband access and cybersecurity take center stage as governors deliver their broadest policy speech of the year.

by Government Technology editorial team / January 29, 2017

Click on each state for insight into the technology initiatives mentioned and our thoughts on how they did based on a rating scale of 0 to 5, with 0 being no technology mentions and 5 representing extensive technology plans. The more color you see, the more technology mentions were made in a governor's address.

Traditionally, even tech-savvy governors have left specific mentions of IT-centric initiatives out of their annual addresses to the legislatures and citizens of their state. But over the past few years, that tide has shifted. Technology has increasingly snared a larger percentage of the limelight, indicative of its growing prominence in policy conversations. 
 
Vulnerabilities across the cyberspectrum have propelled IT security to the forefront, with many state leaders announcing the development of, or progress on, multi-agency cyberinitiatives to confront the growing threat to government and citizens alike. Broadband is getting plenty of executive attention too — an acknowledgement of the importance of high-speed connectivity across both urban and rural areas. And that attention is followed by investment, with many governors citing proposals for new money for broadband.
 
Education always takes center stage during state of the state speeches, as is the case this year. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum continues to get a boost, signaling a growing awareness of the needs of today’s and even more so, tomorrow’s, economy. Many governors detail plans to beef up computer science curriculum as well as STEM teaching expertise in their states. 
 
What emerged this year more than ever was the growing realization that the economy, and therefore the workforce, is undergoing a fundamental change. Notably, but not surprisingly, policymakers now understand that jobs of the future require more training and education. What governors aren’t saying explicitly is that technological advances in robotics and automation are responsible for the change. But it’s exactly these trends that are driving investments in preparing the workforce for careers in highly skilled industries. Savvy governors are pairing those investments with incentives to keep skilled workers within their borders.

Check out page 2 for our detailed analysis of each State of the State speech delivered to date.

This article was updated April 12.