State of the States 2018: Broadband, Cybersecurity Surface as Priorities

Find out which state governors are talking tech.

by / January 31, 2018

With a wave of gubernatorial elections on the horizon later this year, many states’ top elected leaders were nearing the end of their terms as they delivered their most important policy speech of the year, the State of the State address. So understandably, many seized the opportunity to reflect on their accomplishments while in office. Governors across the map cited positive economic news, like low unemployment rates, number of jobs created and a better fiscal picture than they inherited from their predecessors.   

We took a look at the speeches, however, to see whether technology is on the minds of the nation’s governors. A few years ago, explicit mentions of how modern technology can help government deliver on its mission were rare, but tech’s profile has been raised, reflective of how central it is to many policy discussions.

Governors are talking about cybersecurity and grappling with the very real threats posed to citizens by the ubiquity of connected devices and online transactions in modern life. They are also taking concrete steps to promote careers in cybersecurity to ensure their states are ready to confront the threats with an educated workforce. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, for example, announced a new School of Cyber and Engineering in Huntsville, while Idaho Gov. Butch Otter talked up strict controls, comprehensive training and partnerships in cybersecurity to help the state “remain on the vanguard of this evolving discipline.”

Along with a near-universal focus on education were explicit mentions of connected tech as a vital tool in powering tomorrow’s classrooms and preparing the next generation for the jobs that will be available when they graduate. And a connected classroom needs high-speed Internet, which governors are increasingly finding resources for. Broadband infrastructure got several mentions, with a handful of governors calling on legislators to support policies and funding to make broadband available to rural communities. In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker recalled how eight years ago, the state lacked a program to expand broadband infrastructure, but the current budget contains more than $41 million to connect schools and communities. 

The opioid crisis weighs heavily on leaders across the country, and there were many mentions in speeches of how addiction and overdoses were devastating communities nationwide. Many governors mentioned task forces aimed at getting a handle on the problem, and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice was hopeful about some research being done on a possible medication to rid sufferers of their cravings for the drug. A glimmer of hope came from outgoing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who talked about the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, which helps providers see what medications patients have been prescribed by other doctors. Connected to similar systems in 15 other states, hits to the system rose dramatically last year, suggesting the data-sharing effort has the potential to make an impact. 

Several speeches were peppered with plans to reduce cumbersome government processes to make it easier to do business in the state, make government run more efficiently and provide improved service to constituents. While it’s hard to imagine these upgrades coming without tech, most governors steered clear of the back-end details. A rare exception was North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a former software company CEO who spoke about the digital transformation needed in the state to offer a more streamlined citizen experience. Illustrating the magnitude of the work to be done, Burgum pointed to 160 distinct state websites and 800 different applications. More than 90 percent of the state’s IT resources, he revealed, go toward keeping current systems running, and he’s committed to changing that. “We have a lot of work to do here on driving a citizen focus as we go forward,” Burgum said. If defining the problem is the first step toward a solution, the state seems on solid ground. 

This story will be updated as additional addresses are delivered.

Alabama

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 9, 2018
To sum it up: Gov. Kay Ivey took the reins after scandal rocked Alabama government. At only nine months into her tenure as governor, Ivey focused most of her remarks on standard political fare — responsible government spending, corrections reform and K-12 education. But Ivey also seemed to understand the important role technology plays in a 21st- century government. She addressed the growing need to connect rural communities to broadband service, and the role reliable access to the Internet would play in shaping the economic growth of these communities. “Though we are almost two decades into the 21st century, many of our rural communities do not have adequate access to broadband,” she said. "Adequate broadband enhances educational opportunities, increases economic development prospects and develops critical communication systems.” She vowed to support legislation that would promote broadband investment and called on legislators to take steps to assess the need for connectivity in the state's rural areas. Ivey also announced the formation of the Alabama School of Cyber and Engineering, which will be based in Huntsville and will focus on supporting and preparing students for technology and engineering careers. Huntsville is already a hub for the aerospace and rocket industries, she said, making it an ideal location for the facility.

Read the governor's speech here

Alaska

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 18, 2018
To sum it up: In his fourth State of the State address, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker continued a trend set by his previous speeches: Tech did not play a role in his remarks, as economics remain at the forefront of the state’s concerns. With a high deficit and few reserves, Walker cited a need to create a strong, sustainable financial plan to put the state back on course, overcome a considerable deficit and generate more jobs for Alaskans, as the state has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. To that end, the Alaska Economic Recovery Act will redistribute funds to cover deferred maintenance of state infrastructure, create jobs and more. In another aggressive financial move, Alaska will take a note from other states, stopping the pay of the governor and legislators if a budget is not passed within a designated amount of time. Walker also pointed to the state’s success in tapping its natural gas reserves, which will strengthen the state's economy, as will building a robust education system. Other components of the governor’s address included a plan to address climate change in the state, as well as combatting the opioid crisis and improving public safety.

Read the governor's speech here.

Arizona  

Stars: 1
Address Date: Jan. 9, 2018
To sum it up: Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s address on Jan. 9 paid homage to many of the state’s successes, including the achievements of notable female elected officials and policymakers, calling on Arizonans to treat every person with dignity and respect. Mentions of tech were very sparse, although he did briefly reference it relative to education policy. Among Ducey’s key priorities when it comes to continued investment in K-12 are support for computer science and coding curriculum, as well as high-speed Internet for schools in rural areas. Ducey also struck a competitive tone with neighboring states when it comes to luring technologies and technology companies to the state. “We want Arizona to be the entrepreneurial capitol of the U.S.,” he said.  

Read the governor's speech here.  

Arkansas

Stars: 1
Address date:
 Feb. 12, 2018 
To sum it up: In Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s fourth State of the State address, he pointed to economic progress in the form of a nearly 2 percent reduction in the unemployment rate since he took office, coupled with wage growth in excess of 3 percent. While he did briefly refer to the continued need to make state government as efficient as possible (especially to pay for his proposal to cut the marginal individual tax rate to 6 percent), he didn’t specify the role of technology in achieving that aim. Along with one fleeting mention of the need for broadband to connect rural communities, Hutchinson said there has been a 400 percent increase in the number of high school students taking computer science classes in the past three years. “We need to stay the course on computer science education in Arkansas,” he said.    

California 

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 25, 2018 
To sum it up: Gov. Jerry Brown's final State of the State address focused on climate change, infrastructure investment, health care, education and criminal justice. While generally upbeat for a state with an economy that is the sixth largest in the world, Brown sounded strong words of caution regarding climate change — not surprising, given the devastating fires, rains and mudslides that have devastated a number of communities. While Brown never mentioned technology directly, the topic was there as he talked about the need for modernized infrastructure, from a better water system to investing in more efficient and renewable energy systems. He also called for more funding for the state’s roads and bridges and highlighted why the state needed to finish its high-speed rail network. “I make no bones about it,” he said. “I like trains and I like high-speed trains even better.” 

Read the governor's speech here.  

Colorado

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 11, 2018
To sum it up: Beginning his final year in office, Gov. John Hickenlooper delivered his eighth State of the State speech before Colorado’s General Assembly, stressing that he is not letting up on the state’s top priorities and encouraged the legislature to collaborate on tackling infrastructure, bolstering education and building budget reserves. Hickenlooper devoted significant attention to how the state has grown over his eight years as governor (the position is term-limited) and focused much of his remarks on the people and the spirit they bring to the state, and how that resonates across the economy and in social and health services. As for technology, his references were minimal, despite his acknowledgment that "Our economy is undergoing tectonic shifts with the acceleration of automation and artificial intelligence." He said state legislation was needed to ensure the full buildout of rural broadband and mentioned how the state has championed innovative technology, including a partnership with a tech firm to test how vehicles can be linked to smart highways to save lives. 

Read the governor's speech here.  

Connecticut

Stars: 0
Address date: Feb. 7, 2018
To sum it up: In his State of the State speech, Governor Dannel P. Malloy addressed a joint-session of the Connecticut General Assembly and urged them to continue their focus on the theme of Connecticut Fairness. He stressed that as inequity grows nationwide, the state should work on policies aimed at creating a fairer, more equitable and more just place for Connecticut residents. And while he did not address tech, Malloy outlined more than 10 specific initiatives he will support in the 2018 legislative session that will improve a number of concerns facing his constituents. Among other issues, these included: preserving the key elements of the Affordable Care Act, including passing a state-level individual mandate; building on Connecticut’s paid sick leave laws; redoubling the state’s clean energy and environmental protection efforts; making it easier for residents to cast their ballots by allowing early voting and exploring vote by mail; raising the minimum wage; and creating a uniform standard for anti-harassment training in both the public and private sectors, including training for bystanders to respond to and prevent harassment.

Read the governor's speech here.    

Delaware 

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 18, 2018
To sum it up: Delaware Gov. John Carney boasted of having met some of the goals he laid out in his 2017 State of the State address, namely working through disagreements in balancing a $400 million budget shortfall. Despite this success, he’s leaning on the work of the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review Board to cut costs and increase effectiveness to encourage sustainable financial progress. A couple brief ideas he mentioned were changes to how technology is distributed to schools and modernization of court processes. Among the efforts he tallied as wins for the year were historic investments in the Department of Corrections (including in technology), strengthening oversight of opioid prescriptions and stronger protections for citizens affected by breaches of personal information.  

In the name of economic development, Carney hopes to encourage venture capital investment in Delaware startups with an Angel Investment Tax Credit. Research and development are being encouraged in the recently created Delaware Innovation Space, a joint project with the University of Delaware and DowDupont — one of a few such efforts he mentioned. Investments to support the state’s “innovation economy” include Zip Code Wilmington, a coding bootcamp that helps funnel IT skills into the workforce. He also outlined plans to make things easier on employers, like streamlining permitting at the Department of Transportation — a move that surely has tech implications.  

Read the governor’s address here

Florida

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 9, 2018
To sum it up: Gov. Rick Scott’s address focused on the effects of Hurricane Irma and public safety more than anything else. While he took time to run through the standard numbers — jobs up, home values up, unemployment and taxes down — technology of any kind was lacking from his remarks. Throughout much of 2017, the Agency for State Technology faced a legislative threat aimed at eroding the autonomy of the centralized IT agency. The effort, launched by Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, R-District 35, was finally vetoed by Gov. Scott in June.

Read the governor's address here

Georgia  

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 11, 2018
To sum it up: Despite investing nearly $100 million in the Hull McKnight Cyber Innovation and Training Center in Augusta last year, and being home to one of the country's more technologically minded cities, Atlanta, Gov. Nathan Deal made almost no mention of technology in his State of the State remarks. What he did focus on was the education system, lower state expenditures, criminal justice reform and the growing film industry in the state, as well as Georgia's lowest unemployment rate in 10 years, at 4.3 percent. Deal also announced plans to invest $11 million in transportation to address aging infrastructure, as well as to promote the state's technical college system as a means of growing its workforce. 

Read the governor's address here.

Hawaii  

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 22, 2018
To sum it up: In his fourth State of the State address, Hawaii Gov. David Ige avoided any discussion of the Jan. 13 false nuclear missile alert sent out under his watch, despite the fact that the incident sparked a lively conversation about the importance of user-centered design. An infusion of funds for K-12 and higher education was a key accomplishment for the state this past year, and Ige also highlighted the newly founded annual hackathon competition, which gives hundreds of professional and amateur code writers the opportunity to develop solutions for the state’s biggest challenges. Hawaii vowed not to run from constant modernization of state technology, but rather to embrace it, ensuring proper training for every worker using new systems and tools. Hawaii has its eye on increasing its local food production, strengthening agricultural technologies and helping tech startups grow strong. The governor also touched on housing and infrastructure needs and cited homelessness as the state’s most pressing issue for 2018.  

Read the governor's address here

Idaho 

Stars: 3
Address date: Jan. 8, 2018
To sum it up: Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s 2018 State of the State address was also his last. After serving three terms, he will not seek a fourth. But rather than summarize his accomplishments, Otter focused on the future and included a number of tech-related proposals. First, the governor has recommended investing an additional $10 million in school technology, bringing the state’s ed tech investments for students and teachers up to $36 million. He also called for creating a statewide digital campus, “to better keep pace with continuing change in what we need our higher education system to deliver.” Another recommendation from Otter for post-secondary education: Implement a statewide degree audit and data analytics system that would identify students early on who need additional support, and to track their progress toward degree completion.

As for state government, Otter pointed out Idaho now has its first director of information security (Jeffrey Weak) who has directed state agencies to adopt rigorous national cybersecurity standards, put in place tight Internet security controls and has made a comprehensive cybersecurity training program mandatory for every state employee. Otter also emphasized the state’s burgeoning cybersecurity market, thanks to a partnership with the Idaho National Laboratory’s Cybercore Integration Center, as well as other cyber-related projects and programs. “We are reaching a critical mass of infrastructure,” said Otter. “All that’s needed is our continuing commitment for Idaho to remain on the vanguard of this evolving discipline.”

Read the governor's address here

Illinois

Stars:
Address date: Jan. 31, 2018 
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Indiana 

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 9, 2018
To sum it up: Gov. Eric Holcomb’s state of the state address this year was largely a follow-up to the speech he made at this time last year. His focus was primarily on jobs and education, and Holcomb retread the five priority pillars he previously laid out, but he was not as descriptive of technology work this time around. He spoke about providing career pathways for students, unskilled workers and prisoners returning to society, as well as about increased road and water infrastructure investment. He included mentions of some of the same technological themes as last year, including the $250 million Next Level Indiana Trust Fund, which will start investing in Indiana companies in the first quarter of this year. Indeed, most of the governor’s technology focus was on economic development. “Tech is taking root in Hoosier soil. It’s grown by nearly 28 percent in central Indiana since 2015. Take Infosys, which was the first Indian company on the New York Stock Exchange and is now in more than 50 countries. Infosys could have put its business tech hub anywhere — and they chose Indiana,” Holcomb said. He also highlighted state efforts to clarify the sales tax-exempt status of software-as-a-service technology business models. One new area he did mention was the system integration work the state is undertaking to give medical professionals access to Indiana’s prescription drug monitoring program, called INSPECT, to help avoid prescribing opioids to addicts. “In September, just one hospital was using the new system; now, more than half are on board and will be using the technology this year,” he said.

Read the governor’s address here.  

Iowa

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 9, 2018
To sum it up: In her first State of the State address, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds mentioned tech sparsely, providing few details when she did. She alluded early to computer science programs for students but didn’t offer any details past a quick mention. Gov. Reynolds did say that a “new initiative will promote investment and connect rural Iowa by expanding broadband capabilities in every corner of our state.” Rural broadband is, indeed, a topic of focus for many state governments. The speech, however, did not offer specifics on how the state plans to address the complex challenges inherent to strengthening its digital infrastructure. STEM education, which involves preparing students for tech work, was mentioned, as the governor said the state had invested more than $37 million in related programs through public-private partnerships. This came in the context of a much larger discussion about education funding, in which the governor discussed a pre-apprenticeship program for high schools that would prepare students for jobs such as welding, carpentry, nursing, drywall and others.  

Read the governor's address here.

Kansas 

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 9, 2018
To sum it up: Like many of his peers, Gov. Sam Brownback opened his final State of the State address by reporting on the state’s robust job growth, revealing that the unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since 2000. The governor also encouraged the legislature to approve his additional $600 million education funding recommendation. His goal with the five-year funding package is to increase the K-12 graduation rate to 95 percent, with 75 percent of those graduates going on to pursue some form of higher education. Among the dreams Brownback laid out for Kansas are a future as an exporter of wind electricity across the country, as well as status as the “Air Capitol of the World,” known for aviation and drone manufacturing. “We can be an unmanned aerial vehicle hub, where the latest UAV technology is developed, tested and manufactured,” he said. 

Read the governor's address here

Kentucky

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 16, 2018
To sum it up: Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s 2018 State of the Commonwealth speech was also the speech he used to introduce the state’s biennial budget, and that took up the majority of his address. He started off by warning legislators and listeners with a Thomas Paine quote: “These are the times that try men’s souls.” With that message in mind, Bevin jumped into a meat-and-potatoes walk through big-picture budget items, including a commitment to meet unfunded pension obligations to state workers, full cuts to 70 government programs, a diversion of money into an empty rainy-day fund and a proposal to increase funding for law enforcement. He also intends to devote $34 million to addressing the opioid crisis and to pass tax reform measures as well. He did not mention KentuckyWired, an ongoing effort to spread broadband Internet across the state, which is entering its last year of work before it goes live in 2019, nor the state’s new chief information officer

Read the governor’s address here

Louisiana

Stars:
Address date: March 12, 2018 
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Maine

Stars: 0
Address date: Feb. 13, 2018 
To sum it up: In his final State of the State address, term-limited Gov. Paul LePage delivered a highly politicized speech that never quite touched on tech. In fact, at one point the governor seemed to advocate against the private sector focusing on innovation in his state, saying continued support of research and development should be shifted instead to commercializing existing ideas.

LePage started his speech by saying he preferred not to recount his administration’s accomplishments in favor of discussing the future, but the future he envisioned for the state did not seem to be one that places an emphasis on technology. LePage, a Republican, took aim at Democrats and liberals often, directing many of his remarks and talking points toward them and their actions, criticizing their stances during past disagreements, and often insinuating they were acting on behalf of interests from out-of-state. This left little room for any serious discussion of technology. The closest LePage came was in warning against excessive land conservation, saying that it hinders development and that he had “established an online registry for all non-profits to report conservation-land ownership,” although he did not elaborate on the registry.

Read the governor’s address here.    

Maryland

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 31, 2018
To sum it up: As expected, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s fourth and final State of the State address of his first term strongly made the case for a second term, but it was light on mentions of technology. He praised the Legislature for passing the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act and called on lawmakers to strengthen anti-gang statutes; make felony human trafficking a violent crime; and to pass the Accountability in Education Act of 2018 and the Legislative Transparency Act of 2018. The latter, Hogan said, will let Maryland “join the 43 other states that require Legislative deliberations to be livestreamed to the public.”

Like other state chief executives, Hogan founded his remarks on positive economic tidings, highlighting the complete reversal of a jobs loss that has made Maryland the fastest mid-Atlantic state in job creation; fourth among all 50 states for entrepreneurial business growth; and home to the highest median household income in America. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education got just one mention as Hogan called on the statehouse to pass the current Protect Our Students act, and noted Maryland is second in the nation in its concentration of STEM employment.

Read the governor's address here

Massachusetts  

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 23, 2018
To sum it up: Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker pointed to significant progress on the financial front in his Jan. 23 State of the State address, having narrowed a structural budget deficit of $1 billion to less than $100 million since he assumed office. He reported similarly impressive progress in improving access to connectivity for communities in the western half of the state. “When we took office, more than 50 communities in Western Massachusetts didn’t have access to high-speed Internet services,” he said, noting that most communities that lacked access are now connected or will be connected in the next two years.

Massachusetts also plans to expand its green energy production with more offshore wind projects, which Baker hopes will reduce the state's reliance on fossil fuels. In another nod to sustainable energy policy, Baker anticipates that by this fall more than 70 percent of streetlights in Massachusetts will have been converted to LEDs, reducing power usage by 60 percent.  

Read the governor's address here.  

Michigan 

Stars: 3
Address date: Jan. 23, 2018
To sum it up: In his eighth and final State of the State address, on Jan. 23 in Lansing, Gov. Rick Snyder led with what he called “Michigan’s incredible comeback,” touting the creation of more than 540,000 private-sector jobs, balanced budgets and a reduction in long-term debt. Tech wasn’t front-and-center, but it did figure prominently twice in Snyder’s speech. He spent arguably the most time on robotics, discussing the after-school program FIRST Robotics, open to K-12 students, which will hold its world championships in April in Michigan. The state has more than 500 FIRST Robotics high school teams — more than New York and California put together, Snyder said — highlighting the work of two groups that built a robotic car for a special needs boy. 

The governor gave roughly equal time to mobility and, as he has done in years past, pointed out the state’s autonomous vehicle (AV) testing facilities, including the 300-acre American Mobility Center (AMC) at Willow Run; the University of Michigan’s MCity; and the smart mobility initiative Planet M. “To be blunt, you’ll hear about Silicon Valley, you will hear about other places, [but] the world’s leader is Michigan. We’re going to keep up that roll and stay on the gas,” Snyder said. In one other brief tech reference, Snyder called for better access to broadband statewide.

Read the governor's address here.

Minnesota

Stars:
Address date: 
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Mississippi 

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 24, 2018
To sum it up: Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant delivered his seventh and last State of the State speech, in which he did not address tech, but did tout the success of his economic development efforts. New businesses have invested by moving their companies to the state, and with more than 60,000 jobs created over the past six years, he said the state's unemployment rate had hit historic lows. What's more, the educational system has improved, with the high school graduation rate now over 80 percent. These factors make him optimistic that the state’s critics will sit up and take notice. "The proverbial critics would have you believe” that Mississippi is a “declining state whose people are suffering mightily,” he said. “Fortunately the other Mississippi is filled with progress. It is inhabited with caring, hard-working people of all races and ages who strive valiantly every day to make this wonderful state a better place to live and raise our children.” Bryant was also proud to report that there's light at the end of the tunnel for the opioid epidemic, citing productive actions resulting from the Governor's Opioid and Heroin Study Task Force, created in December 2016. 

Read the governor's address here.

Missouri

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 10, 2018
To sum it up: Gov. Eric Greitens highlighted families and especially children in his speech, talking about creating more jobs for those who don’t have them and boasting of having lowered the unemployment rate to its lowest point in 17 years. Since March of last year, the state has outpaced the nation in job growth, according to Greitens, and climbed nine spots in the rankings for the best states in which to do business. He directed attention toward some of the state's most vulnerable residents, especially the 13,000 children in foster care. He called Missouri a compassionate state, proven when it joined the National Electronic Interstate Compact Enterprise, which makes it easier to adopt children across state lines. Another way to help kids he identified was bringing more jobs back to the state — a goal helped by rolling back unnecessary regulations.  

Read the governor’s address here

Montana

No address this year.

Nebraska

Stars: 2
Speech date: Jan. 10, 2018
To sum it up: Collaboration was a key theme of Gov. Pete Ricketts’ fourth State of the State address as he outlined ways the state is growing its population and its industries. Traditionally thought of as simply farm country, last year Nebraska added more than 1 million non-farm jobs and is attracting companies across industries, including Facebook. Part of the growing “Silicon Prairie,” the social media giant is building a 970,000-square-foot campus that promises to bring tech jobs to the region. Ricketts also pointed to the Center of Operational Excellence, which works with state agencies to consolidate, streamline and speed up services, like processing environmental permits and reducing the nursing licensing program by more than 60 days. The governor hopes this work will communicate that “Nebraska is open for business, from manufacturing to technology to agriculture.” As part of that push to make Nebraska a state where people and companies want to live and work, Ricketts is pushing budget cuts as well as a restructuring of taxes that will make Nebraska an attractive Midwestern state, particularly to young college graduates and skilled workers.

Read the governor's address here.  

Nevada

No address this year.

New Hampshire

Stars:
Address date: Feb.15, 2018 
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New Jersey 

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 9, 2018
To sum it up: It was former Gov. Chris Christie’s final state of the state address, and he made it just one week before the incoming governor, Phil Murphy, was sworn in. So one might forgive him for spending most of his speech looking backward rather than forward. In a statistic-laden talk, Christie tread over his favorite details of his eight-year run as governor: an $18.2 billion reduction in property taxes, a 66 percent reduction in murders in the city of Camden, 8 million cubic feet of storm debris cleared after Superstorm Sandy and $8.8 billion paid into the state pension system. He did mention technology a couple times. While touching on opioid addiction, the major theme of his speech last year, Christie highlighted the state’s data-sharing work via its prescription drug monitoring program. The program, which allows medical providers to check patient records for other prescriptions they’ve received, is hooked up to similar systems in 15 other states — accordingly, interstate information requests through the system rose from 198,000 in 2015 to 3.5 million in 2017. He also highlighted state websites where people can seek addiction treatment and report suspicious opioid activity

Read the governor’s address here.

New Mexico

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 16, 2018
To sum it up: While New Mexico has seen private-sector job growth as a result of its increasingly diverse economy, the state should do better at investing in tech, Gov. Susana Martinez said during her State of the State address on Jan. 16. Martinez, now in her second term, highlighted the state’s recent economic and fiscal adversity, including a budget broadsided by the steepest-ever crash in oil and gas prices and a $600 million shortfall that has since reversed to an estimated $330 million surplus.

On the tech front, Facebook will build a data center in New Mexico, investing more than $1 billion and employing 1,000 construction workers through 2023, the governor said. She called it the equivalent of more than 10 years of private construction in Albuquerque. But Martinez said the state needs to do a better job of competing with its peers to encourage business expansion and attract new jobs — including investing in new start-ups “so that New Mexico technology becomes New Mexico careers.” Officials, she said, have devised a “stronger in-state preference,” better positioning New Mexico companies to apply for state contracts; and last year, launched a $40 million catalyst fund to draw high-tech companies. Crime, too, inhibits economic advancement, Martinez said, noting the state will give law enforcement “the staff, tools, and data capabilities” it needs. She also called on educators to address a teacher shortage in STEM subjects and to update schools with better technology and broadband.

Read the governor's address here.

New York

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 3, 2018
To sum it up: Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his eighth state of the state address on Jan. 3, and if he has his way, he’ll be back for a ninth next year, as the state has no term limits for governor. Tech was a very minor piece of Cuomo’s address, mostly hinted at rather than relied upon as part of the solution to the state’s fiscal challenges, including a multi-billion-dollar deficit and even larger ramifications associated with the recently passed federal tax bill. Cuomo spoke in depth about infrastructure needs, calling cashless tolling structures, staffed by law enforcement and equipped with license plate readers and other high-tech tools, a successful component of the state’s terrorism-fighting strategy. To address other infrastructure vulnerabilities, he proposed additional surveillance at transportation hubs like Penn Station, currently undergoing redevelopment. As for how to pay for needed upgrades to New York City’s iconic yet aging subway system, Cuomo proposed an elevated pricing structure in well-traveled areas. In a nod to transparency (and the damaging effect of questionable “news” during the last campaign cycle), the governor proposed shining more light on who pays for political ads that populate social media feeds: “Social media must disclose who or what pays for political advertising because sunlight is still the best disinfectant,” he said.

Red the governor’s address here.

North Carolina

Stars:
Address date:  
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North Dakota

Stars: 5
Address date: Jan. 23, 3017
To sum it up: While North Dakota may be far removed from the country’s name-brand tech hubs, Gov. Doug Burgum’s second State of the State speech on Jan. 23 puts it as a leader on the gov tech map. While the governor spoke to issues that have received national attention such as the protests at Standing Rock around the Dakota Access Pipeline, as well as more regional issues like a historic flood in 2017 that strongly impacted agriculture, he also devoted time to the state’s technology efforts, which touch everything from health care to the environment to oil drilling. As Burgum put it, tech “changes every job in every company in every industry,” and to be successful, they must “embrace the digital transformation.” To that end, he explained that going forward, the state must work to become more efficient and make the citizen experience as easy as online shopping, such as transitioning from 160 siloed government websites to a more streamlined state portal. In that effort to become more citizen centric, he said, “we want to be interacting with the people that are helping drive things forward.” As part of a duty to protect sensitive citizen information against an average 7.3 million attacks per person per month that the state receives, Burgum wants to strengthen cybersecurity efforts. Other tech initiatives include growing use of tools like online driver’s license and registration renewal, GIS tracking for snowplows, and a Vision Zero initiative, in which he anticipates autonomous vehicles will play no small part.  

Read the governor's address here.  

Ohio

Stars:
Address date: March 6, 2018 
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Oklahoma 

Stars: 1
Address date: Feb. 5, 2018 
To sum it up: In her final State of the State address, Gov. Mary Fallin, who is term-limited, called on Legislators to resolve the state’s budget crisis, invest wisely in the war on crime and focus on policy goals. Calling it “an historic, defining moment,” the governor asked Legislators to “show again that the Oklahoma Standard lives.” Fallin asked lawmakers to consider reforms as well as the traditional budget fix of revenue. Her budget, the nearly 30-year legislator said, includes funding for “agency performance and accountability efforts” to ensure appropriate spending of public resources and “help address public confidence in state governance.” The governor also reminded the Legislature to remember initiatives put in place to make Oklahoma “smart on crime” by offering treatment, not incarceration, to residents with substance or mental health issues. In a brief mention of gov tech toward the end of the speech, Fallin noted that she is in favor of signing “bills proposed by the Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force that are smart, data-driven solutions to safely and prudently fix our criminal justice system." 

Read the governor's address here.

Oregon

Stars:
Address date: Feb. 1, 2018 
To sum it up:  

Pennsylvania

Stars: 2
Address date: Feb. 6, 2018 
To sum it up: Gov. Tom Wolf's annual address was billed as a platform for the governor to present his new budget proposals, but also highlighted other goals and accomplishments, similar to a State of the State address. On the financial side, he urged the state Legislature to adopt a severance tax on the extraction of natural resources like oil and gas, a move that would “bring billions of dollars into our own coffers." Pennsylvania is the only one in the oil and gas producing state in the country without such a tax. 

Wolf also highlighted job-creation and education initiatives, intended to grow the economy. He called attention to expanded access to kindergarten and Pre-K, while the state’s high school graduation rate has reached more than 86 percent. The state has also increased its number of career and technical education students earning industry certificates by nearly 33 percent, and Wolf says Pennsylvania is second in the nation in STEM education. In further tech talk, the governor expressed plans to extend Internet to everywhere in the state, as well as the roll out of a one-stop portal for businesses to connect with state services. Wolf also announced plans for a second one-stop shop as part of a new workforce development program called PASmart.

Read the governor’s address here.

Rhode Island

Stars:
Address date: January 16, 2018
To Sum it up: In her fourth State of the State address, Gov. Gina Raimondo in Rhode Island highlighted the headway the state has made in job creation, with an aim to continue that trajectory by offering more science and tech training in public schools. “We’re the first state in America to teach computer science in every public school,” she said, addressing the state Legislature Jan. 16, 2018, adding that career and tech programs have grown in the state on her watch. Raimondo also talked about gains in energy production, noting that Rhode Island is the only state in the nation with an offshore wind farm. The state is on track to make its energy production system “10 times cleaner by 2020,” said Raimondo, adding that more than 5,000 green jobs have been added to the state since 2014. In the only other brief mention of technology, the governor noted progress in service delivery to the state's veterans, including a new online portal, recently launched. Raimondo steered clear of any mention of the state's troubled large-scale IT projects like the United Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP), which prompted a freeze on new projects last year.  

Read the governor's address here.  

South Carolina

Stars: 1
Address Date: Jan. 24, 2018
T
o sum it up: In his annual address, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who replaced Nikki Haley when she became U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, outlined key budget proposals including promises to cut taxes, fight illegal immigration and combat the opioid crisis. He did, however, call to expand funding for teachers and schools, pointing to the importance of education, for both teachers and students, for workforce development. Notably, the governor's executive budget includes $3.3 million to train new computer science and coding teachers for classrooms across the state. McMaster also called for the creation of the South Carolina Workforce Partnership, in which businesses, high schools and technical colleges would work together to develop internships, certificate programs and dual-credit courses. As a part of his law-enforcement budget, he also included $5 million for a need-based grant program to place police officers in schools to keep “threats and distractions down." 

The governor praised President Trump's tax cuts and touted his own plan to cut state taxes by $2.2 billion over five years, which included the elimination of state income taxes on the retirement benefits of veterans and first responders. However, McMaster took exception with the president's plan to expand offshore drilling, saying it will not stand in South Carolina. "We must do whatever it takes to preserve this economic paradise we call ‘the beach, the marsh, the coast and the lowcountry.’ It is made of gold," he said.

Read the governor's address here

South Dakota

Stars: 3
Address date: Jan. 9, 2018
To sum it up: South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard gave his final State of the State address on Jan. 9, focusing on his administration's 2018 priorities of helping the working class and balancing the state budget. While also addressing key issues like tribal relations, the opioid crisis and criminal justice, the governor touched on tech in a number of ways, including through his efforts to strengthen a 21st-century workforce. Daugaard announced a partnership among higher education, high schools and the state department of labor to offer high school juniors and seniors courses in cybersecurity, network services and software development that will count both toward high school graduation and as college credit. He pointed to the strength of Dakota State University’s Computer and Cyber Sciences program as a part of this effort, and noted that these tech fields pay well and are in high demand. The governor also highlighted the state’s efforts at transparency via its “revamped” Open SD website, which includes a one-stop portal to access government information and financial records, as well as live streaming of public meetings. He further noted available online services like driver’s license renewal, state job applications and more, along with apps for hunting and fishing licenses as well as citizen engagement through social media.

Read the governor's address here.  

Tennessee 

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 29, 2018
To sum it up: Tennesse Gov. Bill Haslam’s State of the State address circled technology several times, but never touched directly on it. The second-term governor emphasized the importance of education that improves citizen access to high-paying jobs and the need to give “every ZIP code” access to high-quality education. The state and its cities have pressed to bridge the broadband gaps between urban and rural communities, but any mention of these efforts was tangential at most. The governor’s call to meet the opioid crisis head-on was similar in this regard. According to Haslam's statistics, Tennessee writes 7.6 million prescriptions a year, but the state's population is only 6.6 million. Many states lean heavily on prescription drug monitoring systems – Tennessee's has been operational since 2013 – to identify and head off potential problems, and a new program called TN Together will focus on prevention, treatment and enforcement. When it came to his comments about making government more efficient, the governor focused not on where technology was streamlining citizen-centric services or administrative processes, but on the state’s reduction of unnecessary facilities and operating costs. Although the speech didn't articulate the potential of technology to aid in government’s overall mission, evidence of progress is apparent throughout the state. In places like Chattanooga, access to high-speed Internet has been a priority, while state lawmakers have pushed for Internet service providers to maintain net neutrality standards or lose their contracts with the state. 

Read the governor's address here.

Texas

No address this year. 

Utah

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 24, 2018
To sum it up: Gov. Gary Herbert gave his eighth and final State of the State address on Jan. 24. Otherwise light on superlatives, “by every meaningful metric,” he said, the state is “truly exceptional.” As for specifics, he deferred to a website (Utah.gov/stateofthestate) with an infographic-style presentation of accolades and legislative priorities. Those priorities include investing in technical education in order to diversify the state’s economy and a more modern tax policy that generates revenue by taxing online purchases. As for the speech itself, Herbert made just one fleeting reference to the digital divide that can separate students in rural schools from the prosperity enjoyed in the tech sector, praising a local tech company’s partnership with a nearby school, where it offers training in virtual reality, video editing and coding.

Read the governor's address here.  

Vermont 

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 4, 2018
To sum it up: In his second annual State of the State address, Gov. Phil Scott focused on getting Vermont on stable economic ground going forward, working toward a future that is safe, healthy and sustainable for citizens. As part of a commitment to clean energy and Vermont’s participation in the U.S. Climate Alliance, Scott said his administration will work to make electric vehicles more accessible to residents. He did not otherwise mention technology directly, but tech touches many of Scott’s efforts to grow the economy and working population. Through investments in education and attracting young working families and entrepreneurs, Scott hopes to meet financial goals. The state’s Program to Improve Vermont Outcomes Together (PIVOT) works to increase government efficiency and productivity, such as by streamlining the Department of Fire Safety’s process for construction permit applications.

Read the governor’s address here.

Virginia 

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 10, 2018
To sum it up: In his fourth and final State of the State, Gov. Terry McCauliffe reflected on promises he made at his inauguration and how far Virginia has come since then. He noted that the state has made enormous strides toward building a New Virginia Economy, which have put the state on strong financial footing and created thousands of new jobs across sectors, for example through the Open Data, Open Jobs Initiative. Although tech did not play a central role in the speech, the governor said that while Virginia was traditionally a defense industry state, it is now a strong player in cybersecurity, renewable energy, data analytics and autonomous systems, suggesting that the state puts a premium on technology as it grows with the 21st century. McCauliffe emphasized his focus on becoming a leader in the fight against climate change, including increasing Virginia’s production of solar energy from 17 megawatts of installed capacity at the beginning of his term to more than 2,600 installed or in progress today. The governor's address acknowledged the violence in Charlottesville in 2017, but concluded with recognition of the overall positive effects of his time in office. 

Read the governor's address here

Washington

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 9, 2018
To sum it up: In his Jan. 9 speech, Gov. Jay Inslee spoke on a host of issues in which the state is either participating, improving or has a goal to work toward, including investing in K-12 and higher education, highway and transit systems, and health care; raising the minimum wage for workers; and boasting that the state’s economy is one of the nation’s greatest, with unemployment being at a historic low and the business climate rated as the best. He talked of women’s health-care rights and the expectation of a workplace free of sexual harassment. Inslee noted steps toward investing in the largest, greenest transportation package in state history, as well as putting $7 billion toward education. He talked of the importance of understanding the price of climate change, the need to focus on clean energy technologies, and mentioned Microsoft and Puget Sound Energy as companies that have changed the way they do business to reduce carbon pollution. Inslee also described the need to build solar panels and put more electric cars on the road, as well as to improve utility services and modernize the electric grid.

Read the governor’s address here.

West Virginia

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 10, 2018
To sum it up: Gov. Jim Justice talked no tech in his second State of the State address, but he struck an optimistic tone, pointing to fiscal progress credited largely to the growth of the severance tax tied to oil and gas production. As further evidence of progress, he announced that West Virginia just completed its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report on time, improving their standing with the federal government that had previously put them on probation because the document was consistently late. In addition, the state’s better financial footing is enabling a 1 percent raise for state employees. Teachers too will benefit from a pay increase of 1 percent per year for the next five years. As did many governors, Justice emphasized the gravity of the opioid crisis, pointing with hope to promising research out of West Virginia University on a treatment than can eliminate addicts’ cravings.

Read the governor's address here.

Wisconsin

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 24, 2018
To sum it up: This year Gov. Scott Walker gave his eighth State of the State address, which included mention of several milestones — a record low unemployment rate (3 percent), increased spending on public schools, lower income and property taxes, and the largest economic development project in state history: the $10 billion Foxconn plant, which will produce state-of-the-art liquid crystal display panels. His remarks directed toward technology included mention of how the state has been pumping money into schools, which includes new technology in the classroom and doubling the state funding for high-tech Fab Lab workshops. Walker pointed out that when he became governor eight years ago, there was no state-funded grant program for expanding broadband infrastructure, whereas today the budget includes $41.5 million to connect communities and schools. Finally, Scott asked the FCC “to finalize rules increasing access to broadband Internet by advancing television white space technology,” or harnessing unused TV broadcasting frequencies to create Wi-Fi access.

Read the governor's address here.

Wyoming

Stars:
Address date: Feb. 12, 2018
To sum it up: