2015 State of the State Addresses: Is Technology on the Agenda?

To find technology in this year’s speeches, you often need to read between the lines.

by , , , / January 30, 2015
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.


2015 State of the State Analysis

Alabama
Gov. Robert Bentley began his March 3 address by praising the foresight of state leaders more than 
two decades earlier who lured Mercedes to Alabama, effectively launching the automobile industry 
in the state. He similarly touted a growing aerospace industry, which will produce the first Alabama-made airliner in 2016. Outlining progress made to date in ensuring Alabama lives within 
its means, Bentley pointed to a number of efficiency measures, including a brief mention of an 
overhaul of state IT — presumably a reference to recent modernization projects like an updated 
ERP system that replaces legacy HR and financial applications.
Rating: 1 star     


 
Alaska
Incoming Independent Gov. Bill Walker delivered a unique one-two punch with his Jan. 21 State of the State address followed by a Jan. 22 budget address. Many of Walker's comments focused on the state's fiscal challenges, worsened by the falling price of oil  — a fact celebrated by American drivers but bemoaned by Alaskans. Walker explained the challenge in no uncertain terms: "This has moved us from a $7-million-per-day deficit just six months ago to a $10-million-per-day deficit today." Acknowledging the state's dependence on oil, Walker attaches fiscal sustainability to increased reliance on natural gas and other natural resources, predicting that the state could begin generating revenue from natural gas as soon as 2023. In his only note related to technology, Walker mentioned enlisting the help of University of Alaska students to help sift through crowdsourced budget suggestions coming in from across the state. He also urged decision-makers to be open to potential solutions that combine services in innovative ways in the name of efficiency. Technology wasn't specifically mentioned as part of the streamlining solution, but would likely play a role.
Rating: 1 star


 
Arizona 
Former Cold Stone Creamery CEO Doug Ducey served as state treasurer before besting his opponents in the 2014 governor's race. Not surprisingly then, he spent some of his State of the State address vowing to tackle the budget shortfall while leveling the playing field in public education and expanding the economy in part by improving the business climate. While not mentioned specifically, technology will likely play a key role in bringing the efficiencies to state government that Ducey pointed to as a better solution to the state's fiscal woes than tax hikes.
Rating: 0 stars


 
Arkansas
Gov. Asa Hutchinson's speech is not yet scheduled.


 
California 
Gov. Jerry Brown's fourth term began with the nation's first State of the State address on Jan. 5, which pointed to successes like a balanced budget, reduced unemployment and the establishment of a rainy day fund to better protect the drought-ridden state's water supply. He also outlined pressing challenges like prison overcrowding, rising health-care costs and ensuring the quality of K-12 and higher education systems. In addition, Brown announced progress on stated environmental goals of increased reliance on renewable energy sources and cleaner vehicles. In his one brief mention related to technology, he credited the state's cap-and-trade system with helping the market generate environmental innovations to help combat climate change. 
Rating: 1 star


 
Colorado
Collaboration was a theme of Gov. John Hickenlooper's State of the State address on Jan. 15, crediting elected leaders with "walking the talk of bipartisanship." Business climate and job growth were both cited as positive indicators of the state's health, along with a historic statewide water plan that strategically allocates resources to serve both urban and agricultural areas. Specifically Hickenlooper talked up Colorado's desirability for innovative technology startups, and the work of the Colorado Innovation Network in continuing to nurture the state's innovation ecosystem. He also made brief mention of the telecommunications reform law passed in the last legislative session that promised broadband expansion throughout the state.                                                                                                                                                    
Rating: 2 stars         


                     
Connecticut 
At the outset of his second term on Jan. 7, Gov. Dannel Malloy mentioned the state's status as a national model for its health-care system, which cut the number of uninsured citizens in half. Widely cited for its effective technology and capable administration, Access Health CT Executive Director Kevin Counihan was later recruited [http://www.govtech.com/health/Connecticut-Health-Exchange-Director-Leaving-to-Run-Federal-Website.html] as the first CEO of the federal health-care exchange. Malloy used the majority of his speech to urge state policymakers to support investments in transportation infrastructure to ensure the state's continued prosperity. Citing recent increases as progress, he promised more details on comprehensive plans to widen Interstate 95, upgrade commuter rail service, as well as a transportation "lock box" that prevents monies raised from being diverted to other projects.
Rating: 1 star


 
Delaware
Gov. Jack Markell led his State of the State address with a list of standard acknowledgments of special guests in attendance, with one notable addition — Dover police officer, Master Cpl. Jeff Davis, whose lip-synced dash-cam video of Taylor Swift's Shake It Off went viral following its release by the Police Department's Public Affairs Unit. Markell led with an acknowledgment of the benefits of the digital age, which "has brought amazing innovations to improve our quality of life." Paired with globalization, he warned of a growing potential for the middle class to be left behind if they don't have the proper skills to excel in this new economy. Markell announced several initiatives toward that end, aiming by 2025 to have 65 percent of the workforce with a college degree or professional certificate. Statewide pathways for key industries, including IT, will set up partnerships between employers, K-12 schools and universities. In addition, eight major employers are working with the state to get hundreds of IT workers trained and hired using accelerated programs and a "coding school," set to launch in fall 2015. A pet project of Markell's, tech company CAI will hire autistic employees, acknowledging their abilities as software testers and programmers. Several technology companies growing in Delaware were also called out by Markell, including IT provider SevOne and data management company IPR International. And the governor noted that business incubators are coming to the University of Delaware and Delaware State. 
Rating: 3 stars


 
Florida 
Among the long laundry list of brag-worthy stats rattled off by Gov. Rick Scott during his State of the State speech was the fact that Florida has the lowest number of state workers per capita in the United States. Technology mentions were limited to workforce development and education investments, as Scott itemized plans for $20 million in advanced workforce training at Florida tech centers, $5 million to encourage affordable STEM degree programs at state colleges and $1 million for paid STEM training for teachers. 
Rating: 1 star 
 


 
Georgia 
Gov. Nathan Deal delivered his fifth State of the State address on Jan. 14, calling it an occasion to "celebrate areas of great health and seek cures for what ails us." Backed by stats from several rating agencies calling Georgia the No. 1 state in which to do business, Deal's prognosis is strong. He also cited private-sector hiring, a growing rainy day fund and an increasing automobile manufacturing base as evidence of the state's positive trajectory. Technology has a role to play in improving the state's public schools, evidenced by Deal's brief mention of iPads and Androids as tools used by modern students. The education funding formula, he argued, should be updated to match the needs of a modern classroom. And while Deal didn't explicitly mention tech in outlining improvements to how agencies involved in corrections and social services work together, surely streamlined systems allowing for improved information-sharing will be part of the conversation.
Rating: 1 star


                                                                                                                                           
Hawaii
Gov. David Ige describes being met by a "sobering" budget picture upon assuming office in Hawaii, and he's setting his sights on federal dollars to help get the state into the black. In an interview with Government Technology last year as a gubernatorial candidate, Ige expressed disappointment in the state's handling of technology: "There really needs to be a transformation to embed technology and reorganize government," he said. In his State of the State address, Ige spoke about a Tax System Modernization program due to start this year which will help increase tax revenues within two years. The upgrade will allow taxpayers to file electronically, access their information online and get refunds more quickly. Ige also talked up the state Senate's transition to a paperless operation, saving $1.2 million and 8 million sheets of paper, hoping that model could inspire similar efficiencies throughout the state. Ige briefly acknowledged the collective disappointment with the Hawaii Health Connector, stating his desire for a "sustainable exchange." A critical component of Ige's plan to grow the state's economy is to nurture innovation with modern infrastructure, whether it's broadband or creating "innovation parks." Ige attached $10 million in funding support for the Hawaii Growth initiative in support of innovation.
Rating: 2 stars


 
Idaho
Like many other state chief executives, Gov. Butch Otter called upon decision-makers to do better than the partisan conflict that typifies national politics. Facing contract rebidding dates for the Idaho Education Network (IEN), which connects rural students to educational opportunities previously available only in bigger metro areas, Otter urged continued funding support. He called the IEN an important part of an overall strategy to prepare students to fill the needs of the state's employers in STEM and other fields. In another oft-cited theme of this year's addresses, Otter spent time on Idaho's infrastructure needs, expressing concern that changes in the Highway Trust Fund formula could leave Idahoans paying disproportionately more into federal highways than the benefits they receive. Otter quickly added that broadband infrastructure was part of the vital infrastructure picture, while also contrasting Idaho's health-care exchange with the federal model, which he said "overpromised and profoundly underdelivered."
Rating: 1 star


 
Illinois
Gov. Bruce Rauner laid out a long list of ambitious — and likely controversial — proposals in his Feb. 4 State of the State address. The new Republican governor wants to reform the state’s workers' compensation law, raise the minimum wage, promote more diversity in construction contracting, cut property taxes, implement performance pay for state workers and give voters control over local government collective bargaining agreements. These and other changes are aimed at making Illinois more competitive with its neighbors, said Rauner, adding, “The states around us have been kicking our tails.” The governor made no reference to large new technology investments, which isn’t surprising, given Illinois’ chronic budget deficit and massive unfunded pension liability. Still, he did vow to increase funding for K-12 schools and community colleges, which presumably would drive technology upgrades, particularly in disadvantaged school districts. And Rauner’s proposal to enact performance pay and bonuses for state workers could help state agencies attract technology talent. These changes often are cited by CIOs as important tools for hiring and retaining skilled IT workers.
Rating: 1 star


 
Indiana 
Ringing in his second term on Jan. 13, Gov. Mike Pence delivered a State of the State address that was long on accolades — about Indiana’s balanced budgets, strong reserves, largest tax cut in the state’s history, rapidly declining unemployment rate, investments in education and infrastructure, and dedication and bravery of its people. “Tonight, there are 49 other governors across this country who wish they could be me!” Pence said, moving into what Hoosiers should expect in 2015. Maintaining fiscal discipline, increasing investments in education and pressing on with the anti-Obamacare approach to health-care reform, called the New Healthy Indiana plan, are top priorities, as is continuing to reduce infant mortality. Though it was Pence’s Management and Performance Hub — a coordinated effort that provides centralized data sharing, correlation and analysis — that is making this reduction in infant deaths possible, he made no mention of it. When it came to education, however, he did note that the state has improved vocational and technical education for students, distributed millions in grants and seen innovation in schools. One such innovation is in LaPorte County, where the high schools and the local utility are collaborating on the Energy Academy, which prepares students for careers in electronics and energy.
Rating: 1 star



Iowa 

The overarching theme of incumbent Gov. Terry Branstad’s 2015 State of the State address was togetherness. He began his speech on Jan. 5 by stating that the condition of Iowa is strong — a strength that comes from collaboration and a joint commitment to making prudent choices. Thanks to this togetherness, veterans returning to the U.S. and leaving the service needn’t worry about finding a career, thanks to Home Base Iowa — a portal dedicated to helping them find jobs and make a smooth transition to civilian life in Iowa. Through this initiative and portal, more than 24,000 jobs have been posted on the Home Base Iowa jobs bank and more than 600 veterans have been matched with jobs in the state. Increasing government transparency and expanding broadband throughout the state were major foci for Branstad, who called for a new Government Accountability Portal to make state government more open, accessible and easier to navigate — and will field requests and respond within one business day. As for broadband, Branstad called for the Legislature to come together and pass the Connect Every Acre plan, which focuses on providing more broadband in rural Iowa and encourages service providers to build out networks not just to the ending point, but also to the rural communities in between. One of the perils of being connected, however, is cyberbullying — something that, along with school bullying and domestic violence, Branstad is looking to end. He is calling on all Iowans to stand up against bullying, and for his state to enact legislation that expands the use of GPS monitoring on dangerous domestic abusers.
Rating: 4 stars



Kansas 

Gov. Sam Brownback's Jan. 15 State of the State address included a quick look back at his last four years in the state’s driver’s seat — when two of the biggest challenges were its economy and budget. Despite reforms like eliminating, consolidating or privatizing multiple state agencies and redundant functions, and reducing the public-sector workforce by more than 3,000 positions, Brownback argued that more work must still be done: He proposed a balanced two-year budget, noting that, as expected, K-12 education, public pensions and Medicaid are the major drivers in state spending. Brownback called for the Legislature to do two things: appropriate money directly to school districts so it can be spent in the classroom, and repeal the existing school finance formula, to allow time to write a new modern formula that meets the state’s needs for great 21st-century schools.
Rating: 0 stars



Kentucky 
In his eighth and final State of the Commonwealth address, held Jan. 7, Gov. Steve Beshear painted a picture of a recession-plagued nation when he took office in December 2007. Today, however, the unemployment rate is continuing to fall and jobs are being added each day. Last summer, the Federal Reserve declared that Kentucky had more than recovered all of its losses from the Great Recession. Electronic health records and the state’s successful health benefit exchange received mention — Kentucky became the only Southern state to both expand Medicaid and create its own state-operated Health Benefit Exchange. Beshear also acknowledged that job training in the state has not been adequate for 21st-century jobs, something he aims to fix. And moving forward, he is looking to improve education and childcare by adding accountability and transparency to all early child-care facilities and implementing the data-driven Accelerating Learning Statewide Through an Advanced Rating System plan, for which the state received a federal grant. Public-private partnerships (P3) also were a topic of conversation, and Beshear called on the Legislature to pass legislation that would “make it clear we are able and eager to partner with private businesses to procure, build or finance capital projects or services.” In December, the state signed an agreement to use a P3 model to expand high-speed broadband access in the state, and Beshear hopes the same approach can soon be used on transportation projects as well. 
Rating: 2 stars



Louisiana 

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's speech is not yet scheduled.



Maine 

Gov. Paul LePage noted in his 2015 State of the State address, held Feb. 3, that it’s time to innovate — that “we need an efficient, effective and affordable government.” This mention of innovation was the sole nod to anything tech related in this year’s address, which centered primarily on tax reform. LePage’s vision is a Maine with no income tax, something that will take time as he is “no magician.” The next step in this plan is to cut income taxes to 5.75 percent down from 7.95 percent. Helping local government to identify sources of revenue outside of income and other taxes also is a priority, as they too must help ease the burden on the state’s residents. LePage’s plan expands the Property Tax Fairness Credit, which helps low- and middle-income homeowners, and he aims to eliminate the estate tax and the tax on military pensions. The state’s Medicaid program has been reformed, and the elderly, disabled and those with intellectual disabilities have been prioritized. And when it comes to welfare, he said, the state is making sure those limited dollars go to “Mainers in need, not illegal aliens.” LePage caused a bit of controversy in this year’s speech when he blamed undocumented immigrants for spreading such diseases as HIV, hepatitis C and tuberculosis, something he also did during a hepatitis A scare in October 2014.
Rating: 0 stars
 



Maryland 

Tech references were nonexistent in Gov. Larry Hogan’s Feb. 4 address. The newly elected governor devoted most of his speech to improving the state’s competitiveness through tax relief and other changes. He also signaled that new state spending would be hard to come by this year as his administration works to close a $700 million revenue gap. “Every penny that is added to one program must be taken from another,” he warned. One winner in that balancing act is education. Hogan said his fiscal 2016 budget includes “record investment” for K-12 education, including more than $290 million for school construction. Higher education would get a funding boost too. State agencies could see a shakeup as the administration seeks savings. Hogan said he’ll urge Cabinet secretaries to innovate. “Their primary mission will be to find ways to restructure their agencies and to make state government more efficient and more cost effective.”
Rating: 1 star



Massachusetts 

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s speech is not yet scheduled.



Michigan 

During his fifth State of the State address, held Jan. 20, Gov. Rick Snyder — the self-proclaimed “tough nerd,” who was named a Government Technology Top 25 Doer, Dreamer and Driver in 2013 for leading a massive technology modernization in the state — focused much less on technology and more on people. This year, his theme was creating an environment in which all residents can succeed, through public-private partnerships and a strategic realignment of government services, so that government treats individuals as real people instead of numbers on a page. Snyder noted the successes Michigan has seen over the last four years, including the creation of more than 300,000 private-sector jobs, strong fiscal stewardship and bold innovation. Looking forward, Snyder’s priorities include transportation infrastructure; improving reading levels for third-graders; creating affordable higher education opportunities; connecting students with careers in skilled trades that are both well paid and in high demand; developing an aggressive strategy to combat abuse of prescription medication; establishing an energy agency; and maintaining an efficient, effective and accountable government. The way to do this, he said, will be to work with legislative partners and stakeholders to develop a performance and financial grading system for all public-sector entities, including schools and municipalities.
Rating: 1 star



Minnesota 

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s speech is not yet scheduled.



Mississippi 

Gov. Phil Bryant’s fourth State of the State address, given Jan. 21, focused heavily on workforce and economic development. He announced the $50 million Keep Mississippi Working Fund that will provide workforce training over the next two years. Combined with the requested $3 million Mississippi Works Scholarship Fund, which will focus on high school students involved in a career readiness curriculum, Bryant aims to develop a better skilled and prepared workforce. His one technology-specific mention touted Mississippi’s work on telemedicine, calling it cutting-edge health care. “We are one of only seven states to earn an A rating from the American Telemedicine Association,” said Bryant. Corrections reform was another key focus as well as increased funding for education. 
Rating: 1 star


 
Missouri 
To mark the beginning of his second term, Gov. Jay Nixon gave a State of the State address on Jan. 21 that challenged Missourians to work together to leave the state better than they found it. Noting that in Missouri, fiscal discipline is a value, Nixon outlined how state government has gotten smarter thanks to technology over the past several years. From hunting permits to child-care provider information, he said, "Missourians can now access hundreds of government services from their smartphones … saving time, money and aggravation." Though technology has dramatically improved quality of life, it also has created security challenges. Nixon dedicated some time to talk cyberterrorism, committing to ramping up cybersecurity efforts by partnering with businesses, law enforcement and universities to identify best practices and educate the public. Making Missouri a leader in cybersecurity, he said, will make families and personal information safer, create more jobs in the tech sector, and strengthen the state’s growing economy. He also vowed to expose children at an early age to effective STEM programs, such as Project Lead the Way, where kids analyze DNA and design software. While Missouri currently has more Project Lead the Way programs than any other state, Nixon's budget provides start-up grants to expand into another 350 elementary schools. Focusing on higher education is also key; Nixon said his administration is working to provide state-of-the-art facilities that prepare students for high-tech jobs. 
Rating: 4 stars 



Montana 

The state of Montana is strong, Gov. Steve Bullock announced at the outset of his 2015 State of the State address, held Jan. 28. Unemployment is down more than 25 percent, with 12,000 new jobs being created in 2014 alone. Technologies being developed at Montana universities are being brought to the marketplace, and the workforce is being better prepared for 21st-century jobs. Partnering with the university system, local officials and 100 businesses, the state is investing more than $40 million to expand and streamline education and training opportunities in advanced manufacturing, health care and the energy industry. Bullock also briefly noted that 21st-century classrooms help ensure that Montana communities and businesses flourish. Bullock said the state also has made government more effective and efficient. The budget is balanced and there are hundreds of millions in the bank — something he noted that constituents can see for themselves on the Montana Data Portal. He also is calling for transparency in campaign finance. “Every penny spent in our elections should be disclosed,” he said, “and [Sen. Duane Ankney] and I are proposing we do just that.”
Rating: 2 stars


 
Nebraska
Newly sworn-in Gov. Pete Ricketts gave his first State of the State speech on Jan. 22, focusing on Nebraska’s high taxes and the need to create more jobs. Technology did not play a role in his speech but he did mention the hiring of an economic development director to help recruit businesses to the state, which may include tech startups. Ricketts also called for reform of the corrections system and specifically addressed the issue of inmates who are mistakenly released early. Numerous corrections departments throughout the U.S. have enlisted biometric technology to help with this issue, making it something to watch in Nebraska. Finally, he called on state agency directors to “innovate ways to reduce regulatory burdens and bureaucratic delays.” It will be interesting to watch how Nebraska’s CIO responds to that request, with technology procurement being a potential issue for innovation.
Rating: 0 stars


 
Nevada 
Gov. Brian Sandoval’s Jan. 15 speech focused on modernizing and transforming Nevada “for its next 50 years of success.” And, as outlined in the State of the State address, technology will play a major role in those goals. Sandoval first outlined tech wins that are helping lay the foundation for the future: the state is one of six UAV training sites in the country; electric car manufacturer Tesla is moving to Nevada following a competitive site selection process; and the state has attracted numerous other companies including in the industries of cybersecurity and data storage. As he looked forward, one of Sandoval’s main focus areas will be to improve the state’s education system. Numerous initiatives make up this goal, including modernizing classrooms through instructional technology and outfitting middle school students with digital devices, while ensuring teachers are trained for the tech-savvy education environment. Fewer than $4 million was invested in school technology over the last two years — going forward that amount will be increased to $50 million. “As we expand technology, we must take steps to protect privacy,” Sandoval said, adding that he is encouraging lawmakers to enact legislation protecting student data. His proposed budget also includes funds to “reignite” the Governor’s Office of Science, Innovation and Technology, which will focus on the state’s STEM strategy and coordinate broadband connectivity to schools and communities while enabling telemedicine. In addition, data center company Switch will expand in the state with a $1 billion investment and a plan to add 1 million square feet of new data center space in Las Vegas that’s worth another $1 billion. “This will make Nevada the most digitally connected state in the nation,” said Sandoval.
Rating: 5 stars


 
New Hampshire 
The theme of innovation was repeated throughout Gov. Maggie Hassan’s Inaugural Address on Jan. 8, but technology mentions were few and far between. She focused on the economy and continuing to build it for the future, in part through supporting job-creating companies and investing in an R&D tax credit to help businesses invest in new technologies. “We are proposing to update and modernize our securities regulations act, making it easier for innovative businesses to raise the capital they need to grow and flourish,” Hassan said. Preparing the workforce was another area of focus. She mentioned a task force that modernized STEM education last year, adding that standards need to be updated for the 21st century to ensure students are prepared to compete for jobs.
Rating: 2 stars


 
New Jersey 
Amid talk of an expected run for president in 2016, Gov. Chris Christie’s Jan. 13 speech outlined the work done in New Jersey over the last four years saying, “The state of our state continues to get better.” Christie’s speech was very light on technology, with brief mentions that New Jersey ranks third nationally in the use of solar power and is in the top 10 of states in data centers. Key themes included the state’s growing economy, reforming of the criminal justice system, a new one-stop clearinghouse for individuals battling drug addiction and the state’s struggling pension system. Hurricane Sandy and Bridgegate were both absent from the speech.
Rating: 1 stars


 
New Mexico 
Gov. Susana Martinez touted the state’s growing number of jobs and companies during her Jan. 20 speech, saying New Mexico has the 15th fastest growing private sector in the U.S. While companies have been relocating to or expanding in New Mexico, she said the state also needs to be become a high-tech jobs leader while ensuring that new developments made at national labs, military bases, universities and companies are brought to the marketplace in the state. “We can make that happen, through the Technology Research Collaborative,” said Martinez. The collaborative was signed into law in 2012 to support the development and commercialization of innovative ideas. In addition, she said stronger incentives are needed to create tech jobs and increase private investment in tech startups. The majority of the speech focused on children and bettering the education system to improve students’ outcomes. And she addressed child abuse, saying the state will implement a system to allow police officers to access a family’s history when responding to a child abuse incident.
Rating: 3 stars


 
New York 
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Jan. 21 speech addressed numerous social issues, including economic opportunity, education, public safety and government reform. Education reform and raising the minimum wage were headline news the next day but some tech initiatives were also mentioned. Cuomo said when speaking about infrastructure that today the focus is less on roads and bridges and more on broadband. “A state that doesn’t have broadband is not going to be economically successful going forward,” he said. The goal is to bring access to the 500,000 homes and 4,000 businesses in the state that lack broadband by leveraging $500 million in private-sector investment. Cuomo also wants to keep startups in the state and will use a $100 million venture fund to invest in the small companies. In addition, he discussed the proposed $15 million online storm response system that will help coordinate with local governments when there’s an emergency. The system will track costs, aiding FEMA reimbursement procedures, and allow officials to see across county lines for situational awareness. 
Rating: 4 stars


 
North Carolina 
Gov. Pat McCrory’s Feb. 4 speech covered the bases of economic resilience, attracting more businesses, increasing the number of jobs in the state and ensuring that students get a quality education. But the most interesting statement from a technology standpoint was McCrory’s call-out of the state’s inefficiency in IT. “What we’ve found is that the piecemeal approach we’ve taken during the past decade to information technology has had disastrous results,” he said, adding that 74 percent of the state’s IT projects have been over budget and behind schedule. To improve operations, McCrory proposed creating a new cabinet-level Department of Information Technology, which all IT employees in cabinet and executive branch agencies will report to. He also thanked CIO Chris Estes for his “groundbreaking work” on launching the new IT department. Additional technology mentions included: bringing Wi-Fi to all classrooms and long-distance learning to children and adults; installing self-service kiosks for renewal and/or replacement of drivers’ licenses or ID cards; beginning this year to accept credit and debit cards at DMV offices; and implementing intelligence-based policing initiatives with the goal of preventing crime. 
Rating: 4 stars


 
North Dakota 
Gov. Jack Dalrymple, North Dakota's chief executive since 2010, covered many key topics including the oil industry during his State of the State address on Jan. 6, but technology was not mentioned. The state recently reached a new population record (nearly 740,000 people), with numbers also showing a shift toward younger residents. As the state's economy and population continue to grow, it can be expected that North Dakota will turn to IT initiatives and investments to meet the needs and expectations of its citizenry. A few other topics addressed by Dalrymple also may have a tech aspect. For example, Dalrymple discussed public safety investments, which although not mentioned in the speech, likely includes the planning of a statewide next-generation 911 system.
Rating: 0 stars


 
Ohio 
Gov. John Kasich spent much of his Feb. 24 State of the State speech discussing taxes. He wants to continue reducing state income taxes, while increasing taxes on business revenue, cigarettes, and oil and gas obtained through fracking. Technology mentions were rare in the speech. While discussing Ohio’s economy and job growth, he said the state needs to be attractive to cutting-edge industries including cloud computing, 3-D printing, telemedicine, medical devices and IT services, which appeal to younger workers. “We can’t continue to be known as the Rust Belt,” said Kasich. He also briefly addressed an analytics center IBM opened in the state, as well as two-year colleges’ move to adopt online competency-based courses.
Rating: 1 star


 
Oklahoma 
Gov. Mary Fallin’s Feb. 2 speech focused on the state budget, education and incarceration rates, with technology playing a supporting role to many of the key themes. For example, she said the state is implementing performance-based budgeting and it will post information about 160 measurable objectives on the OKStateStat.ok.gov portal. “Using OkStateStat, Oklahoma will become the first state in the nation to develop a comprehensive budgeting system that ties spending to measurable goals and outcomes,” Fallin said. She also addressed Oklahoma’s ranking as fourth highest in the U.S. for prescription drug abuse and called for lawmakers to pass a prescription drug monitoring bill that would likely include a database to track the use of commonly abused drugs. Keeping with the trend of many governors this year, Fallin focused on the workforce and ensuring that both students and employers have the skills needed to succeed in the 21st century. Looking back on her time since assuming office in 2011, she said, “We made huge strides in making government more efficient and effective.” One example highlighted in the speech was the state’s IT consolidation, which Fallin said is more than 50 percent complete and is saving money while increasing cybersecurity.
Rating: 3 stars


 
Oregon 
Entering his historic fourth term as Oregon’s governor, John Kitzhaber spent part of his Jan. 12 inaugural address reflecting on how he was inspired to enter public service. The speech was heavy on history, as Kitzhaber discussed the accomplishments of the Greatest Generation including defeating Nazi Germany and the Axis powers and then rebuilding the U.S. “Today things are a bit more ambiguous,” he said. “The problems we face are more complex and often interrelated; the solutions less clear; there is little low-hanging fruit and no quick fixes in a nation addicted to fast food and instant gratification.” Technology wasn’t directly addressed, as he covered key themes like Oregon’s growing economy, which despite decreasing unemployment and growing GDP, still doesn’t allow many residents to meet their basic needs.
Rating: 0 stars


 
Pennsylvania
After assuming office in January, Gov. Tom Wolf gave his first State of the State speech on March 3, focusing on three themes: schools and education, jobs and efficient government. While he did not specifically address technology, Wolf mentioned the creation of the Governor’s Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency, which he said “will focus on improving coordination between agencies, modernizing state government operations, and seeking out partnerships with the private sector.” According to the February executive order that established the office, it will also promote and foster open data.
Rating: 1 star


 
Rhode Island 
Incoming Gov. Gina Raimondo didn't have a lot of specifics in her Jan. 6 Inaugural Address. But it's clear she views technology as a piece of the puzzle as Rhode Island confronts some serious challenges. The state posted the nation's highest unemployment rate for nine straight months, and it ranks 49th among states where companies want to do business, according to Raimondo. "At the same time, our government has become larger but less effective," she added. Part of the answer is modernizing how the state government operates. The governor called for more digital services for citizens and online permitting for businesses. She also said the state needs to help cities share services to reduce operating costs. In addition, Raimondo proposed modernizing school buildings and coursework, along with streamlining business regulations and taxes. "Before adding jobs, [companies] want to know that there will be a steady supply of well trained workers and a 21st-century infrastructure," she said.
Rating: 3 stars


 
South Carolina 
Gov. Nikki Haley proposed lowering state income taxes by 30 percent over the next 10 years to make South Carolina more attractive to businesses. At the same time, she called for 10-cent-per-gallon hike in the state gas tax to fund highway improvements. New highway funds would be tied to structural changes in the state Department of Transportation designed to improve how those dollars are spent. Technology mentions in Haley's Jan. 21 address were few and brief. The governor noted that her 2015 budget includes more money for school technology. She also said state was improving technology used by caseworkers in the Department of Social Services.
Rating: 1 star


 
South Dakota 
The need to boost funding for road and bridge maintenance was a major theme of Gov. Dennis Daugaard's Jan. 13 State of the State address. The governor proposed increases to fuel taxes, vehicle excise taxes and vehicle registration fees that would generate an additional $50 million for highway and bridge construction across the state. High-tech pavement assessment — conducted by a camera- and laser-equipped state vehicle dubbed the "Spider Van" — was a big part of Daugaard's pitch that South Dakota both needs new highway funding and needs to spend those dollars efficiently. "This tool provides objective measurements at each mile of the state highway system and allows the DOT to make well informed decisions on how and where to spend its limited resources," the governor said. He also pointed out continuing efforts to improve government transparency. Two years ago, South Dakota launched a single Web portal containing information on the rulemaking processes for all state agencies. This year, Daugaard announced the launch of a one-stop site listing members, meeting notices, agendas and information packets for more than 100 boards and commissioners in the state. Daugaard did not announce any future technology-related initiatives, however.
Rating: 3 stars


 
Tennessee 
On the heels of a failed proposal to expand federally funded health insurance to low-income residents of the state through Insure Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam's Feb. 9 State of the State address led with a vow to find a different way to tackle health-care issues. Focusing heavily on education and jobs, he detailed progress to date and future plans to make state jobs competitive with comparable positions in the private sector. Another highlight of Haslam's address was the progress he reported on the Tennessee Promise program launched last year, which provides high school graduates with two free years of education at a community college or technical school. Approximately 58,000 of the state's 65,000 high school seniors applied for the program in its first year. Haslam's speech made no specific mention of technology initiatives.
Rating: 0 stars


 
Texas
Incoming Gov. Greg Abbott gave his first State of the State address on Feb. 17, touting the state's No. 1 status in job creation, adding that in 2014, more jobs were created than ever before. Abbott outlined a list of five emergency policy items: early education, higher education research initiatives, transportation, border security funding and ethics reform. And while he talked about funding more STEM teachers, his only direct mention of technology was when he committed to using border security funds on technology to help reduce transnational crime.
Rating: 1 star


 
Utah 
Utah is a perennial all-star when it comes to using technology to improve state government. The state routinely tops the Center for Digital Government's Digital States Survey and it's been a trend-setter in the use of social media and citizen-to-government transactions. None of that made it into Gov. Gary Herbert's Jan. 28 State of the State address. The governor did, however, say he intends to boost education spending by a half-billion dollars, the state's largest increase in student spending for public education in 25 years. Herbert said the money could be used for everything from new technology to hiring more teachers and guidance counselors, depending on the needs of local school districts. Although Herbert didn't specifically mention Utah's digital government efforts, he noted that state agencies have improved efficiency, pointing to the fact that Utah has fewer state employees per resident today than it did 15 years ago. Transportation will be another investment target. Herbert contends Utah's current revenue sources will fall $11 billion short of meeting the state's long-term transportation needs. He intends to work with state lawmakers this year to find new long-term funding sources for highway construction and maintenance.               
Rating: 1 star


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
Vermont 
Third-term Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin laid out his 2015 agenda in an unusual two-part speech — the first covering quality-of-life goals and the second confronting a $94 million state budget deficit. Neither was particularly tech-centric, but both signaled where Shumlin views technology as important. The governor’s Jan. 8 Inaugural Address made extensive references to renewable energy and unveiled a new Energy Innovation Program. Shumlin said the program will help residents adopt solar power and other money-saving technologies, while spurring growth of clean energy companies and cutting reliance on fossil fuels. Shumlin’s Jan. 15 Budget Address laid out his plan close the budget gap, caused by smaller-than-projected revenue growth. Technology will help on several fronts. Shumlin proposed consolidating several 911 call centers, saving an estimated $1.7 million. The governor also called for giving Vermont’s Green Mountain Care Board — formed in 2011 to improve state health care — more power to align health-care technology investments with unified statewide standards as part of a broader move to contain health costs and improve outcomes.
Rating: 2 stars


 
Virginia
Growing and diversifying Virginia’s economy was the crux of Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Jan. 14 State of the Commonwealth address. Although he focused on business incentives, rebuilding traditional infrastructure and improving access to health care, McAuliffe also pointed to a few areas where technology will be an economic driver, including cybersecurity. The governor said his administration’s commitment to cybersecurity — including last year’s launch of the Virginia Cybersecurity Commission — makes the state a top contender for a planned federal government cybercampus. While luring new federal investment on one hand, McAuliffe sought to reduce dependence on federal government spending on the other. He said federal budget cuts triggered by sequestration had cost Virginia-based contractors billions of dollars over the past few years, driving the need to expand the state’s economic base. McAuliffe proposed investing $4.2 million to complete a new electron ion collider at the Jefferson Lab in Newport News, a project he says will generate nearly 5,000 jobs within 10 years. He also called for new efforts to grow Virginia’s bioscience and clean energy industries.
Rating: 2 stars



Washington 

Gov. Jay Inslee's 2015 State of the State Address ran about 2,600 words, almost none of them were "technology." The governor called for boosting education spending — particularly for early grade levels — reinvesting in vital health and safety services, and rebuilding transportation infrastructure. Although he didn't overtly mention technology in his address, Inslee did tout a transportation plan he unveiled in December which recommends the use of lidar imagery to detect landslide danger, creation of electric vehicle charging stations and the adoption of performance dashboards at the Washington Department of Transportation to track revenues and project status.
Rating: 1 star


 
West Virginia 
Technology references in Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s Jan. 14 address were confined to workforce training and improving the state’s junior high and high school curriculum. On the later point, Tomblin proposed new funding to review and expand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs for West Virginia middle and high school students. He also vowed to introduce legislation making it easier for classes to be taught by technology professionals and others who lack traditional education degrees. “We must give local school systems better flexibility to train and hire subject-matter experts to fill long-term vacancies in critical subject areas,” said Tomblin, who focused the bulk of his address on attracting employers to the state, rebuilding roads and bridges, and expanding the scope of an ongoing corrections-reform initiative.
Rating: 1 star


 
Wisconsin 
Gov. Scott Walker’s Jan. 13 address spent more time on the Green Bay Packers than technology. Walker’s only possible tech mention requires some connecting of the dots. The governor, a proponent of school choice, called on state lawmakers to pass legislation requiring “objective information” to be made publicly available for every school receiving public funds. If passed, the measure presumably would drive new data collection and Web development in order to make the information public. The rest of Walker’s relatively brief address concentrated on the state's success in creating jobs, the need for vocational education and state agency consolidation, and power of the Packers to unite Democrats and Republicans.
Rating: 1 star 


 
Wyoming 
Broadband Internet connectivity figured prominently in Gov. Matt Mead's Jan. 14 State of the State address. Mead pointed to the completion of the Unified Network project, an initiative he championed to boost Internet speeds throughout the state. "This network, I'm pleased to report, as of today is fully built," he said. "[It] brings an even higher standard of broadband to our state, more fiber-optic connections and gigabit speeds." All 48 school districts in the state now have Ethernet-speed connections, Mead said, up from just two in 2011. In addition, the network is facilitating gigabit-speed connections in a growing number of Wyoming communities, making the state more competitive for tech employers. The governor added that incentives and aggressive recruiting to lure data center operators to the state are paying off. Microsoft recently opened a biogas-powered data center in Wyoming and is expanding an existing facility there. Finally, Mead noted that all state employees are on the same email system, one benefit of several years of government consolidation efforts. 
Rating: 4 stars

Steve Towns

Steve Towns is the former editor of Government Technology, and former executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government TechnologyPublic CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market. Steve now serves as the Deputy Chief Content Officer for e.Republic. 

Noelle Knell Editor

Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.

Elaine Pittman Former Managing Editor

Elaine Pittman worked for Government Technology from 2008 to 2017.

Jessica Mulholland Former Web Editor/Photographer

Jessica Mulholland served as the Web editor of Government Technology magazine from October 2012 through September 2017. She worked for the Government Technology editorial team for nearly 10 years.