State of the States 2019: Getting America Connected

The nation’s governors are laying out policy priorities for the coming year — some for the first time. Many are focused on technology-driven economic and workforce development as paths to prosperity.

by / January 31, 2019

The influx of new governors across the country cast a slightly different tone in this year’s State of the State addresses. Typically the most notable policy speech given by each state’s top elected official, veteran governors often make the address equal parts retrospective and prospective, pointing to their successes during their terms thus far, while hinting at their plans to take on issues that continue to need attention. But new governors don’t have a record to point to just yet, so their speeches tend to be more forward-looking. Government Technology editorial staff reviewed each speech and rated it from 1 to 5 based on the strength of its technology initiatives.

Based on early speeches, common themes predominate, with most governors laying out plans to strengthen state education systems with a parallel focus on job creation. Technology factors heavily into both. Many speeches refer to specific programs aimed at injecting more resources into things like coding and other science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related curriculum. Likewise, luring and growing tech-related industry to their states is high on the list of many leaders who are eager to rattle off the names of new investments from familiar tech giants with footprints throughout the country.

In easily the most often discussed tech-related priority, about half of governors got specific about the importance of continuing to work on extending the benefits of high-speed Internet to every corner of their state. Incoming Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said it was the top issue identified by his constituents, while many others included specific budget requests for broadband in their speeches. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis offered a familiar sentiment on connectivity: “In the 21st-century economy, broadband is critical infrastructure that everyone must have access to,” he said, asking the Legislature to join him in delivering for Coloradans.

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont lamented the state’s budget shortfall, and pointed to some specific ways technology could help address it. Advocating for a one-stop-shop-style experience for citizens interacting with government, he called on policymakers to support the creation of “the first all-digital government” in Connecticut, with an emphasis on shared services and tech-powered efficiencies throughout the enterprise. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum again delivered a tech-heavy speech, asking lawmakers to support nearly $200 million in IT infrastructure improvements to strengthen cybersecurity and modernize key programs with updated tools. Burgum was also one of a few state leaders to specifically talk about the potential of emerging technologies, asking for an additional $30 million for infrastructure to support the development of the drone industry in North Dakota.

See our analysis of how the rest of the nation’s governors fared below. Evaluations will be added as additional speeches are delivered.

Alabama 

Stars: 1
Address date: March 5, 2019
To sum it up: With its economy booming and unemployment at a record low, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey delivered an upbeat State of the State address that focused on economics, education, prison reform and proposals to improve the state’s infrastructure. Ivey pointed out that Alabama has begun to attract high-tech firms, including Amazon, Facebook, Google and Shipt, to conduct business in the state, and mentioned that the Department of Commerce is working to expand technology’s foothold there. In education, Ivey touted her signing legislation that created Alabama’s School of Cyber Technology, as well as other efforts to instill computer science learning in the state’s K-12 schools and to create career paths in technology at Alabama’s public colleges and universities. Last year, the state also brought broadband service to a number of rural communities.

Alaska

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 22, 2019
To sum it up: Technology made no appearances in the remarks made by Alaska’s new governor, Michael Dunleavy. While the topics of reducing crime, growing the economy and shrinking government bureaucracy were main talking points, technology was not. Dunleavy is an outspoken critic of big government and wasteful spending and reiterated his commitment to getting a handle on the state’s budgeting process and restoring trust in elected officials. The closest mention to technology came during his comments about industry and the need to diversify the state’s economy, when he focused on a Palmer-based company suppling machines used by the Department of Defense to clean the decks of the entire U.S. aircraft carrier fleet.

Read the governor’s speech here.   

Arizona

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 14, 2019
To sum it up: Gov. Doug Ducey’s 2019 State of the State address, the first of his second term, was light on technology overall. He did, however, directly mention it once while discussing his goals for government consolidation, saying technology would be applied to help streamline Arizona government while making it more efficient.

Technology also came up briefly when the governor spoke of the 21st-century “shop” classes created by the state, which offer training in software development among other professions such as nursing, banking and firefighting. Ducey also laid out a framework for improvements to school safety, called the Safe Arizona Schools Plan, created in the wake of high-profile school shootings. While he did not directly mention tech as an enabler of the plan, it could be useful in achieving some of its goals.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Arkansas

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 15, 2019
To sum it up: Gov. Asa Hutchinson, now beginning his second term, spent most of his 2019 State of the State speech talking about policy and budgetary matters. He talked a lot about how the state government could be more efficient, and spend less money while doing so, but he did not spend time discussing how technology could help the state do just that — a tack he’s taken before. In his 15-minute speech, his only mentions of technology were in praising the success of the Arkansas Public School Computer Network, which was created 27 years ago, touting a 30 percent increase in high school computer science class enrollment; and calling for the creation of a Technology and Innovation Council, which will be focused on supporting private-sector technology companies in the state. It all played second fiddle to Gov. Hutchinson’s drive to cut taxes for the third time under his administration.

Read the governor’s speech here.

California

Stars: 4
Address date: Feb. 12, 2019
Gov. Gavin Newsom didn’t lead with technology in his first State of the State address, but leaned heavily on tech twice during his remarks and made passing mention of “reimagining the DMV,” which has come under scrutiny following questions about its Motor Voter program, created to automatically register all eligible DMV customers to vote unless they declined, but which cast doubt on tens of thousands of residents’ voter registration status and eligibility. The governor praised the Legislature for enacting a “first-in-the-nation digital privacy law,” last year’s California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Beginning in 2020, the CCPA, which is still being refined, would do more to let residents know about the collection of their personal information and details of its sale, and would empower them to access the information and decline its sale.

But Newsom called on tech companies to do more to secure and utilize residents’ data and proposed a “Data Dividend for Californians” that would acknowledge the value of that data. The exact nature and thrust of the proposal are not yet clear. The governor also acknowledged the continual need to staff tech jobs and said the state will stand up a new Commission on California’s Workforce and Future of Work, drawing on labor, business, public and private sector to come up with new ideas to expand “worker opportunity without extinguishing innovation or flexibility.” He pointed specifically to the need for tech like AI, blockchain and big data to create jobs rather than eliminate them. 

Read the governor’s speech here. For a more in-depth look at the address, visit Techwire.

Colorado

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 10, 2019
To sum it up: Devoting about half of his 2019 State of the State speech to growth and reforms in K-12 education and health care, newly elected Colorado Gov. Jared Polis also called for commitments to expand the production and availability of green renewable energy and broadband access. “In the 21st-century economy, broadband is critical infrastructure that everyone must have access to,” Polis said in his Jan. 10 address. “Let’s work together to give it to them.”

Polis also stressed a commitment to reaching 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, in part so that Colorado can help combat the effects of climate change, but also to save money for residents and businesses as well as grow the green jobs sector. To get there, he wants to modernize grid infrastructure and energy regulations, as well as electrify buses, cars and trucks.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Connecticut

Stars: 4
Address date: Jan. 9, 2019
To sum it up: In his very first State of the State speech, Gov. Ned Lamont focused mostly on the state budget, which is facing a shortfall, and the economy. But he added quite a bit about the role technology plays in both of those things, and in fact called for some specific actions the state should take. Chief among them was creating “the first all-digital government,” where citizens can get anything they need from the government through a one-stop shop. He also urged local government to share services and cooperate on purchasing more often, asked for a speedy rollout of 5G and rural Wi-Fi, and called for investments in transportation infrastructure to cut commute times across Connecticut. Finally, he spoke of the need for more coding education in public schools. Laced throughout was language the technology sector is fond of — “efficient,” “modern,” “break down silos” and more.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Delaware

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 17, 2019
To sum it up: Gov. John Carney ran on strengthening the economy and creating good jobs for Delawareans. In his address, he said his first two years showed he is on the right track. He cited, as proof, 10,000 new jobs in the state and an unemployment rate at 3.8 percent, the lowest since 2008. There’s more of that to come, he said, thanks to investments in technology-focused small businesses via the Angel Investor Tax Credit.

He pledged to eliminate broadband deserts in southern Delaware and to provide universal high-speed Internet coverage for all citizens and businesses. Fiscal responsibility was another commitment he made in his first two years, launching the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review, part of which resulted in launching online services to streamline how the government does business.

The governor also touted “historic” investments in infrastructure with more than $3 billion in upgrades to the state’s transportation system through 2025 that will translate to safer bridges, less traffic and more pedestrian-friendly streets.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Florida

Stars: 0
Address date:
March 5, 2019
To sum it up: Following several shakeups in departmental organization of technology in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ first-ever State of the State address offered no clues about the direction of IT in the state. The speech touched most of the usual bases in terms of policy — environment, economy, education, health care, public safety, immigration and foreign affairs — with virtually no mention of technology.

DeSantis started with talk about needed reforms in various areas, then applauded what his administration had accomplished already in the way of environmental policy and education. He pledged to continue Hurricane Michael recovery efforts but made no mention of climate change or green technology. His refrain was to “be bold” — in economic opportunities, in protecting the environment, and in improving education and public safety. Speaking about low taxes and the state’s economy, DeSantis briefly alluded to modernizing the state’s infrastructure, but offered no specifics. The governor touted the state’s high-ranking university system being poised for growth in fields of technology, finance, health care and aerospace, and in championing the idea of more workforce education, he mentioned grants to train teachers in computer science.

Read the governor's speech here.

Georgia

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 17, 2019
To sum it up: Gov. Brian Kemp began his address by saluting the state as a top state for business, having created 800,000 new private-sector jobs in the last eight years. But he allowed that not all of Georgia has seen this type of economic fortune and vowed to take steps to fix that.

Part of that will be through efforts of the House Rural Development Council and its colleagues in expanding access to high-speed Internet. The governor quickly addressed school safety and announced $69 million in one-time funding for school security grants for schools to implement security priorities to be determined by local school boards, administrators, teachers, parents and students.

Along the same lines, Kemp said that it’s time to renew a commitment to public safety, specifically the gang problem. He said there are 71,000 validated gang affiliates and 1,500 suspected gang networks in the state. He called the gangs pawns for Mexican drug cartels. His budget allots $500,000 in funds to form a gang task force, which will use the Criminal Gang and Criminal Alien Database to track offenders.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Hawaii

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 22, 2019
To sum it up: In his January State of the State speech, Gov. David Ige discussed the use of technology to drive innovation in reshaping the state’s economy. He stressed the importance of creating more renewable energy, as well as using technology in agriculture — from more efficient greenhouse designs, to automated production to data analysis that improves crop yields. He didn’t get into detail on tech initiatives that will likely populate the agenda of state CIO Douglas Murdock, named by Ige at the start of this year. His objectives include replacing the state payroll systems and upgrading the HR management system — not covered in Ige’s address.

Ige did talk generally of preparing children for the 21st-century workforce, pointing to the five-year strategic plan to overhaul early learning in Hawaii’s schools.

The governor also covered issues of homelessness, clean energy, and the disasters that Hawaii faced last year — volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and floods. He praised the resilience of Hawaiians and called for everyone to work together (especially considering the recent federal government shutdown) for a better future.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Idaho

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 7, 2019
To sum it up: Gov. Brad Little, who has been Idaho’s governor since the start of this year, delivered a State of the State address that focused on broad issues, challenges and goals for Idaho: good paying jobs, better schools, affordable health care (state voters passed a Medicaid expansion referendum), and a state government that is responsive, transparent and accountable. He highlighted the fact that Idahoans have the fastest growing income in the country and the state remains a model of fiscal responsibility, bolstered by one of the largest state tax cuts last year. Still, with personal income tax receipts falling, the state faces fiscal challenges ahead.

Little has included in his budget a recommendation to modernize the state’s IT and cybersecurity infrastructure to increase security and drive performance improvements while cutting operational costs. While he gave no specifics on how this will happen, Little did point out that Idaho needs to improve its broadband infrastructure if it wants economic development to continue. The governor said he would work with the state Legislature to ensure both rural and urban Idaho are well connected.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Illinois

Stars: 1
Address date: Feb. 20, 2019
To sum it up: Illinois’ State of the State address is somewhat irregular in that it also doubles as a gubernatorial presentation of the budget. As such, newly elected Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker spent a significant amount of his time discussing the state’s finances, namely how it might get out from under its massive budget deficit and an even larger amount of resultant late fees on unpaid bills. To combat this, Pritzker stressed cooperation and a return to normal order over the ideological battles that have of late inflicted the statehouse in Springfield.

Early in the speech, Pritzker mentioned a driving philosophical tenet of the vast majority of government technology work, saying, “We must focus on making government more efficient and effective.” He went on to note that this requires measuring the impact of state programs, which is essentially another way to describe data-driven governance without precisely using that phrase. While he didn’t directly cite technology, Pritzker did note that economic development moving forward is contingent on continuing to build Illinois into a “top-tier startup and technology ecosystem.”

Economics was the dominating topic, with specific points that ranged from promoting what Pritzker described as a fair tax that would lessen the burden on the working and middle classes in favor of higher taxes on the wealthiest, to investing in higher education institutions that would help keep Illinois’ most talented young people in the state. Within all those pressing matters, there was little space to discuss how the state government planned to use tech under its new executive leadership.

Read the governor's speech here.

Indiana

Stars: 3
Address date: Jan. 15, 2019
To sum it up: In Gov. Eric J. Holcomb’s third State of the State address, he said his mission is to improve lives for Indiana residents now while also working toward the future. Central to that is building a strong, diverse economy in which technology plays an important role. As part of an effort to grow Indiana’s workforce, Holcomb is pushing to increase teacher pay with the idea that good teachers will turn out good students who will be critical to the state’s future. He acknowledged the ongoing digital divide and particularly how it affects students who don’t have access to affordable high-speed Internet. To that end, he said the state is making the largest investment in broadband it ever has, although he did not put a monetary value on that investment.

In other areas, the state has introduced coding classes to two prisons as part of its The Last Mile program. Google.org has promised to invest $2 million into that system, which boosts workforce skills and has been shown to reduce recidivism. To battle the ongoing drug epidemic, Indiana has partnered with software platform OpenBeds to help get people access to treatment options in real time. The state has a robust data-driven approach to the opioid crisis, and Holcomb noted that Indiana is now getting more data on drugs more quickly and with more accuracy. He vowed that the state will not slow down its efforts toward modernizing government to the benefit of both businesses and residents.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Iowa

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 15, 2019
To sum it up: Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds delivered the Condition of the State address on Jan. 15 — her second address following her mid-2017 appointment as governor after Gov. Terry Branstad was named ambassador to China. While not diving too deeply into technology plans, Reynolds did ask the Legislature to allocate $20 million for the Future Ready Iowa program, which aims to get residents ready for highly skilled jobs like electricians and computer programmers. She also touted STEM investments in K-12 education, including a program to incorporate coding curriculum into high-poverty elementary schools. As is the case in most states, Iowa has some work to do when it comes to extending Internet connectivity to every Iowan. To address the gaps, Reynolds used her speech to seek support from lawmakers for $20 million over two years to help build broadband infrastructure, a figure she said would complement an additional $120 million from private providers.

Read the governor’s speech here

Kansas

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 16, 2019
To sum it up: Years of fiscal austerity in Kansas have left public schools overcrowded and underfunded, Gov. Laura Kelly told her colleagues in the statehouse during her State of the State address Jan. 16. The new governor pledged to “properly fund our schools this year. And next year. And the year after that." The refocused efforts to boost school funding and grow the state’s educational opportunities was presented as a fundamental feature of growing the Kansas economy and lifting the state’s quality of life.

While Kelly did not directly address IT, the state has worked recently to lift its technology stature through features like Agent Kay, an artificial-intelligence-powered chatbot designed to offer tax advice as Kansans set out to prepare their taxes, making Kansas the first state to offer tax assistance via AI. As far as broader IT strategy, Kelly announced in January that she’d retain the interim CIO Lee Allen in a permanent appointment, which was followed by the announcement of Eric Davis as chief technology officer. 

Read the governor’s speech here.

Kentucky

Address date: TBD

Louisiana 

Stars: 1
Address date: April 8, 2019
To sum it up: The tone struck by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in his State of the State address on April 8 was an optimistic one. Edwards spoke about the state’s current budget surplus, happy to leave behind the days of the $2 billion budget deficit that he inherited when he took office in 2016. Along with a stable economy, Edwards pointed to Louisiana’s $252 billion gross domestic product, the highest ever in the state. Plans to move the state forward include proposals to increase teacher pay, grow educational opportunities for students and let voters weigh in on whether the state’s minimum wage — currently at $7.25 an hour — should be raised.

References to technology in the address were very limited, though Edwards called Louisiana a “global leader in cybersecurity,” citing the decision by the National Governors Association to host its cybersecurity summit in Shreveport-Bossier in May. In addition, amid positive stats he associated with the state’s expansion of Medicaid, Edwards lent his support to more data collection around opioid overdoses to more effectively influence prevention, intervention and treatment efforts.

Read the governor's speech here.

Maine 

Stars: 2
Address date: Feb. 11, 2019
To sum it up: Newly elected Gov. Janet Mills turned to technology more than once in her 2019 State of the Budget address. She informed the Legislature that her budget increases funding for the state’s adult and career technical high schools, which teach skills in areas such as computer-aided design, 3-D printing, and laser cutting and engraving. She also noted that the budget allocates $2 million for broadband, designed to bring in more federal dollars to help bring the Internet to even more Mainers.

Mills said the state will be working with the Maine Development Foundation and the private sector to boost the state’s economy by attracting clean energy producers, data centers, high-tech industries and locations that allow residents to work remotely. She also leaned on technology solutions for improving the state’s energy efficiency, saying the state will make efforts through various means to explore offshore wind power, solar power, heat pumps, and charging stations and incentives for electric vehicles. Last but not least, the budget allocates for seven new positions in the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit to assist law enforcement.

Read the governor's speech here.

Maryland

Stars: 1
Address date:
Jan. 30, 2019
To sum it up: Gov. Larry Hogan delivered a speech that led with praise for Maryland’s ability to rise above partisan politics in service of its citizens. Reportedly considering a challenge to Pres. Trump in 2020, Hogan noted economic and social progress since his first inauguration in 2016, peppering the speech with the refrain “we cannot afford to turn back now.”
 
Among the stats he pointed to were Maryland’s ranking as second in the country for its concentration of employment in STEM fields, as well as its ranking atop WalletHub’s list of innovative states. When it comes to technology-related plans for the future, Hogan asked legislators to pass the Legislative Transparency Act of 2018, which would require livestreaming of the state’s legislative proceedings. It’s not exactly a leading-edge idea, however. Hogan noted that 43 other states already do it.  
 
Read the governor’s speech here.

Massachusetts

Stars: 4
Address date: Jan. 3, 2019
To sum it up: Tech touched many aspects of Gov. Charlie Baker’s second inaugural speech on Jan. 3 as his administration heads into another four years. What Baker called a “get stuff done approach” to public-private partnerships played a role in advancing smart tech and robotics, as well as manufacturing and economic development, which has boosted job growth across the state. The state Legislature has worked on procurements that will mean half of the state’s electricity will come from clean resources, and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles implemented Real ID as well as a new digital platform, speeding wait times for the majority of customers to less than 30 minutes, Baker said.

Investments in public transit were among Baker’s key topics. Over the next five years, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority plans to spend $8 billion to modernize the T, the subway system in the Boston area. Baker highlighted the need for an automated fare system, which is expected to come online in 2020 and will allow the state access to real-time transit data that will enable it to improve the system for riders. Also on the transit front, Baker wants to invest in autonomous and zero-emission vehicles. Noting that Massachusetts has the highest rate of health-care coverage in the country, Baker said that also means that health care can be very costly, and hospitals “continue to struggle.” He anticipates addressing this issue in 2019 through legislation that expands telemedicine.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Michigan

Stars: 1
Address date: Feb. 12, 2019
To sum it up: In her first state of the state address, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer detailed what she believes are the state’s major challenges that need to be addressed. It starts with infrastructure, specifically worsening road conditions and crumbling water systems, which have been highlighted by the city of Flint’s undrinkable water supply. Next, Whitmer called for the need to better fund education in the state, pointing out that per-pupil funding revenue has fallen by 15 percent. She also brought up the lack of transparency, noting that the state is ranked one of the worst in the country when it comes to access to public records.

Whitmer’s one direct reference to technology was to criticize the lack of sufficient funding, calling the state’s IT systems “outdated,” resulting in challenges that “impede both state employees’ ability to do their jobs and Michigan residents’ ability to access government services.” The governor’s remark was somewhat surprising given Michigan’s consistently high ranking as a digital state by the Center for Digital Government (the center is part of e.Republic, Government Technology’s parent company).

Read the governor’s speech here.

Minnesota

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 7, 2019
To sum it up: In his inaugural remarks in early January, newly-elected Gov. Timothy Walz touched on many topics adjacent to technology — education, the economy and health care — but left out the part it could play in moving the state forward. The 41st governor called on the state to close racial and political divides while making the commitment to try to boost economic and educational opportunities in all parts of the state, though there was no direct mention of how technology might assist these goals. Walz did, however, refer to the “innovative spirit” with which Minnesota has taken on challenges in the past, and as the state moves forward, the IT Services department will likely continue to build on recent initiatives such as its push toward Real ID and improvements to its vehicle licensing system

Read the governor's speech here.

Mississippi

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 15, 2019
To sum it up: In the final year of his second and last term, Gov. Phil Bryant used his State of the State address to draw attention to the progress Mississippi has made in education and the state’s economy. Last year, 93 percent of Mississippi’s third-graders were reading proficiently, up from 54 percent in 2011. He also pointed out that the high school graduation rate is now 83 percent, the highest percentage in Mississippi’s history. To bolster that progress, the governor has asked the state Legislature to give public school teachers a raise, the second in five years. To keep things on track, Bryant wants to provide more support to the state’s community college system and invest in workforce development. For now, the state’s economy is humming, with a 4.7 percent unemployment rate and an 8.4 percent rise in median income since 2011.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Missouri

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 16, 2019
To sum it up: It was Gov. Mike Parson’s first State of the State address since taking over for Eric Greitens, who resigned amid scandal last year. And Parson spent much of the speech talking about efficient government. He talked about his budget, which would cut 430 government positions, about eliminating many of the state’s regulations, and about how he wants to pass tax credit reforms. He talked about “streamlining government services” and consolidating prisons to save money. He did not say much about how modern technology can help government become more efficient. He did, however, lay out his top two priorities for the legislative session, which are workforce development and infrastructure. When it comes to infrastructure, Parson said he wants to expand broadband access in the state, including to 10 school districts and scores of rural places that lack it. He’s proposing $5 million for broadband projects to go along with $255 million the state has received in federal funding.

Watch the governor’s speech here.

Montana

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 31, 2019
To sum it up: Gov. Steve Bullock’s fourth and final State of the State address mostly reflected on the state’s achievements since he took office and centered around a couple of major themes including education, health care, infrastructure and the economy. Tech made a few brief appearances in the governor’s speech, mostly regarding education. Less than three-quarters of school districts in Montana had high-speed Internet when Gov. Bullock took over in 2013. Today that number is at 98 percent, while the cost has been more than halved. The governor also praised Montana’s teachers for “using 21st-century technology to prepare students in an increasingly technology-driven society.”

Technology also made an appearance in the governor’s discussion of the state’s economy. Montana added 34,000 private-sector jobs in the past six years, including 100 positions with ClassPass, a fitness tech startup that has been working with the state as it expands its business. The state also has a number of residents in rural areas working remotely for the large ticket-printing company Ticketprinting.com.

In regard to health care, the governor touched on the state’s effort over the past few years to use reference-based pricing to make medical costs more consistent and predictable throughout the state. Although technology was not mentioned, it’s possible it played a part in the effort, which saved the state $13 million in just two years. The governor touched on a number of achievements since he took over in Montana that did not relate to technology, including an innovative Medicaid expansion, increased dual enrollment at public schools and a decreased unemployment rate.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Nebraska

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 15, 2019
To sum it up: As he did in last year’s speech, Gov. Pete Ricketts emphasized the importance of collaboration in creating the best Nebraska possible. Ricketts’ fifth State of the State address made little mention of tech, although some initiatives around public safety and generally improving the government’s efficiency will likely involve digital strategies to streamline state services. Among ways the governor wants to grow the Nebraska workforce, he recommends an additional $1.25 million each year go toward expanding the Developing Youth Talent Initiative, which aims to give middle-schoolers exposure to opportunities in IT and manufacturing. Since its inception, the program has reached 7,000 students. Ricketts also wants to create a scholarship program to help community and state colleges attract more students in specific programs like engineering.

The governor discussed what he described as Nebraskans’ No. 1 priority, property tax relief, and covered a number of proposals to reduce the financial burden for state residents. To further ease taxes for certain groups, Rickets proposes a 50 percent tax cut for veterans who receive military benefits, as well as creating tax incentives that would attract high-paying jobs to the state.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Nevada

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 16, 2019
To sum it up: In his first State of the State address, just after the pleasantries and a promise to address key issues of economic recovery, education and health care, Gov. Steve Sisolak led with Nevada’s technology boom. Some of this was retrospective, however: He pointed to the state’s recent successes in attracting major industry players like Google, Apple, Amazon and Hyperloop One, and specifically recruiting Tesla and Blockchains LLC last fall to its Innovation Park. He also commended state legislators for forming a Tech Caucus in December 2018 to explore and promote the tech sector, and credited overall improvements in business climate with boosting Nevada’s financial profile.

The rest of Sisolak’s speech covered policy promises mostly outside the technology field — tax credits for affordable housing, raising state and minimum wages, investing in higher education and vocational training, opening a Governor’s Office for New Americans to help new citizens find services and start businesses, and hiring staff for the Department of Health and Human Services to focus on mental health and substance abuse treatment. Sisolak’s last references to technology were oblique and energy-related, but potentially critical: getting Nevada to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 and preventing the federal government from turning the state into America’s nuclear waste dump.

Read the governor’s speech here.

New Hampshire

Stars: 0
Address date: Jan. 3, 2019
To sum it up: In his third address as the leader of New Hampshire, Gov. Chris Sununu’s remarks were essentially absent of any discussion about the state government’s use of technology. Whereas last year Sununu preached the value of tech skills training for students in his state, much of the content of his speech this year had to do with political cooperation, especially at the start. At times, Sununu mentioned the need to find “innovative solutions” to challenges such as the opioid crisis, but he didn’t go on to specify whether this meant better use of technology. Sununu talked often of improving government services, work with vast potential to involve data-driven governance, but the governor never mentioned that angle specifically. Whereas last year, the governor stressed the importance of supporting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, this year he didn’t make mention of the discipline, instead discussing a plan that would give residents an associate degree for free.

Read the governor’s speech here.

New Jersey

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 15, 2019
To sum it up: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy stressed the state’s aim to grow its innovation economy in his Jan. 15, 2019, State of the State address. To do this, Murphy said the state must look to more than simply tax incentives, but also strive to improve residual areas like K-12 education, worker development and transportation. “Companies want to stay and grow and locate in a state that allows them to flourish and for their workers to prosper in all parts of their lives,” he said. “New Jersey has the potential to check every one of those boxes.”

Murphy also prioritized reforms to NJ Transit like filling vacant positions, improving customer service and reliability and incorporating technology like positive train control by 2020. In his speech’s only other brief mention of tech, he mentioned New Jersey’s $100 million investment in taking on the opioid crisis, which includes a focus on data gathering and analysis.

Read the governor’s speech here.

New Mexico

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 15, 2019
To sum it up: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham focused more on goals than specific plans in her first State of the State address, with much talk of exploring options or finding new paths. But she ended the speech with a tech-driven pledge: to have New Mexico producing 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, and 80 percent by 2040. To accomplish this, she pointed to the state’s potential for harvesting solar and wind energy and cutting methane emissions. She promised to join several other governors in signing onto the bipartisan U.S. Climate Alliance and making renewable production a priority, since the current federal administration has not.

The rest of Lujan Grisham’s speech covered money and reforms for education, public health, taxation and other economic policies. She pledged half a billion dollars for public education; funding for studies of gun violence and implementation of legislation to keep firearms out of the wrong hands; a boost for opioid abuse prevention programs and treatment; to prosecute prescribers and pharmaceutical companies that don’t follow the law; to promote “better delivery over bureaucracy” for the state health system to treat mental illness; and to get rid of the state’s criminal abortion law. Leading up to her promise to invest in green tech, she talked about the economy: a staggered minimum wage increase indexed to inflation, equal pay for women, tiered raises for state employees, expanding a tax credit for working families, promoting film and television production by lifting the cap on tax rebates, asking the state to hire more veterans, and hiring an outdoor recreation coordinator for tourism. When she promised to devote state resources to infrastructure such as bridges, roads, water systems and school buildings, she also mentioned broadband Internet in rural areas.

Read the governor’s speech here.

New York

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 15, 2019
To sum it up: In his State of the State speech, where he outlined his 2019 “Justice Agenda,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo harkened to the 44th governor of the state, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, asking, “What would FDR do?” Cuomo said FDR was called upon to govern amid a great economic crisis that threatened the well-being of the nation, and that today there is another crisis unfolding, albeit a social and not economic one. But economics is part of the equation, and Cuomo lauded the state’s investment program in infrastructure at more than $100 billion. He said that should be increased to $150 billion to create 500,000 new labor and middle-class jobs to build a global economic platform. Cuomo said FDR’s “common men and women” demanded change and were outraged at economic injustice that prevailed.

Technology is a part of the equation as well, and Cuomo outlined goals including investing the technology workforce, where a $175 million program prioritizes demand for work in clean energy and technology. The governor proposed developing a center for computer science education at universities to expand computer science education. He also wants to reconstitute the Innovation NY Network that he established in 2013 to develop actionable recommendations to attract businesses and grow the artificial intelligence and quantum computing fields. He said today’s men and women must too demand change, to rebuild the crumbling infrastructure and create even more jobs and opportunity. He said tough challenges are in the offing, including reforming the failing New York City subway system, which must finally be addressed this year after decades of system neglect.

Read the governor's speech here.

North Carolina 

Stars: 2
Address date: Feb. 25, 2019
To sum it up: Gov. Roy Cooper opened his 2019 State of the State address with North Carolina’s recovery from last fall’s Hurricane Florence and Tropical Storm Michael. He praised the hard work of first responders and the resilience of survivors, and called for teamwork in rebuilding. Cooper also stressed the importance of addressing education, climate change and infrastructure. He emphasized the need for improved rural broadband: “Too many North Carolinians lack Internet connection they need to apply for jobs, do homework or run a small business,” he said. “Among households without broadband, about 95 percent are in rural areas — a digital divide with very real consequences.” Cooper encouraged the completion of rural broadband projects and the use of public-private partnerships to connect everyone statewide.

Read the governor's speech here.

North Dakota

Stars: 4
Address date: Jan. 3, 2019
To sum it up: The 2018 address from North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum laid out a number of technology priorities, and this year’s speech put some more specifics behind them. Focusing on improving the digital experience for citizens while protecting personal data and state assets from cyberthreats, Burgum mentioned North Dakota’s recent moves toward centralized IT, which are already saving money and reducing staffing needs. But the work has just begun: Burgum is asking for $16.4 million to unify state cybersecurity efforts, to effectively reduce the risk introduced by the 400 groups he points to as touching the network. He also discussed another major IT ask for legislative support: $174 million for two dozen far-reaching technology projects, in areas including public safety and voting integrity. “This is the critical infrastructure for an interconnected world — and a necessary investment to protect our citizens’ data,” he said.

In the interest of maximizing fiscal efficiency, the governor also underscored a commitment to ramping up financial transparency by making changes like refining forecasting methods. He pointed to the Office of Management and Budget’s online portal, which now offers richer detail on the state’s financial picture. Burgum also put stock in emerging technologies — particularly drones — to help broaden the state’s economic base. He proposed a $30 million investment in an infrastructure network for unmanned aerial systems in the state, to build upon existing resources and solidify the state’s status as a leader in the development of the technology.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Ohio

Stars: 3
Address date: March 5, 2019
To sum it up: In his first State of the State address, Gov. Mike DeWine mentioned tech directly a handful of times. It received the most mention in his discussion of InnovateOhio, which examines state services from the perspective of those using them, namely citizens, and finds ways to improve and modernize. The governor touted the program’s current success, including improved data collection and use for statewide initiatives on issues like the opioid crisis and workforce development. Going forward, InnovateOhio will be taking a leading role in technology projects throughout Ohio, coordinating projects to leverage data as a tool “to change the way we solve problems.”

Additionally, DeWine proposed the creation of a Narcotics Intelligence Center that would allow local law enforcement to better combat drug abuse with high-tech analytical capabilities and enhanced intelligence. He also called for a workforce development and retraining initiative, announcing plans to invest more in career-tech centers to create a more modern state workforce. Finally, he stated that he will be working with the Legislature to create an all-encompassing energy strategy to bring clean electricity to the state while maintaining a competitive economy.

Read the governor’s speech here.
 

Oklahoma 

Stars: 3
Address date: Jan. 4, 2019
Technology was certainly a topic addressed in the remarks of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. Amid talk of putting the state on the path to being one of the nation’s top 10, Stitt addressed the need to digitally transform government, especially where it interacts directly with citizens in departments like the motor vehicles. He called for a $20 million grant program to allow agencies to pursue funding to bring services into the 21st century while making them more customer-centric. He also cited the need to prepare for the next-generation workforce through technology-focused higher education. Additionally, Stitt highlighted the need for transparency in both the budgeting process and overall government accountability. He called for an online dashboard and state government checkbook where citizens can track spending and performance metrics. 

Read the governor's speech here.

Oregon

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 14, 2019
To sum it up: Recently re-elected Oregon Gov. Kate Brown spent a portion of her State of the State/inauguration address emphasizing the need to continue restoring public trust following the resignation of her predecessor John Kitzhaber in 2015. Brown promised to move the state forward with greater openness and transparency.

She mentioned technology only briefly in her speech. Brown discussed ensuring that students are Future Ready (referring to her plan to give skill and job training to children and adults in order to provide the expertise that growing businesses need). She also talked of arming residents with skills to work in clean energy jobs, as well as to compete in the global economy, but did not specifically comment on technology’s role.

A good sign is the permanent appointment of Terrence Woods as state CIO in December 2018. He has prioritized modernization of legacy state IT, as outlined in the governor’s strategic plan released in September last year. Other goals are to hire a state chief data officer and enhance Oregon’s Enterprise Security Office.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Pennsylvania

Stars: 1
Address date:
Feb. 5, 2019
To sum it up: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf delivered an inaugural address in January and a budget address on Feb. 5, but the latter held more clues as to how technology would help him achieve his goals for the commonwealth during his second term. Like other state leaders, Wolf spoke about compromise for the good of the citizens, a practice bolstered by his budget — proof, he said, that “we know how to engage in the respectful and honest give and take that must stand at the heart of a functional democracy.”

Citing procurement as an example, Wolf briefly mentioned efforts at streamlining service delivery in order to make investments in line with resident priorities. For example, he proposed to complement the investment of $1 billion made by Pennsylvania in education with a proposal for a minimum salary of $45,000 for teachers.

Another major push for Wolf is the Statewide Workforce, Education and Accountability Program, a series of coordinated workforce development efforts to prepare students for careers in highly skilled industries like STEM. A one-stop website for workforce resources, PAsmart.gov, is now live — part of a larger digital strategy for the state: “We need comprehensive digital portals for both businesses and workers that gets them all the information they need in one place and breaks down agency barriers,” he said, asking for $10 million in additional funding. 
 
Read the governor’s speech here.

Rhode Island

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 15, 2019
To sum it up: Gov. Gina Raimondo, now entering her fifth year leading Rhode Island, got up in front of the state on Jan. 15 and talked about small business loans. She talked about the state’s Opioid Task Force and the need for insurers to cover mental health and addiction treatment. She spoke about education and called for $1 billion in spending on schools. Raimondo touched on road repair, told stories of the state’s citizens building their lives together and touted tax cuts. What she spent virtually no time on was technology, and its importance to state government — let alone how she plans to use it. Raimondo praised her state for being the first in the U.S. to teach computer science in all its public schools, but did not talk about the state’s cybersecurity work, its increasing use of digital services, its net neutrality push, or problems such as the troubled rollout of a Medicaid eligibility system.

Read the governor’s speech here.

South Carolina

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 23, 2019
To sum it up: South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster delivered an address on Jan. 23 that was heavy with talk of the economy. However, discussion about how technology could be used by the government was hardly present. Gov. McMaster advocated for continued tax reductions within the state, incentives to attract new businesses, and other smaller points such as stationing more law officers within South Carolina’s schools. McMaster did note that the changing economy demands workers with high tech skills, stressing this could be served by encouraging residents to get two-year degrees and also suggesting it would be wise to boost funding for technical colleges. There was much talk of the opioid crisis in South Carolina, without mention of data or technology as a way to combat it. Finally, McMaster also mentioned the importance of transparency — another area where tech often plays a vital role for government — yet didn’t touch on open data or online portals. 

Read the governor's speech here.

South Dakota

Stars: 3
Address date: Jan. 8, 2019
To sum it up: South Dakota might not immediately register as a state focused on propelling itself forward with technology, but Gov. Kristi Noem’s Jan. 8 address showed a firm understanding of where it might dovetail in the largely agricultural state. Amid remarks about farming and the need to bolster the state’s economy, Noem cited the need for better connectivity across the entire state. While urban centers have taken speedy connections for granted, she said, access to high-speed Internet is more vital than ever for families making their way in the agricultural sector. “There are many rural areas of our state where the lack of access to broadband is widespread,” the governor said. “Half our counties have rural areas where one in four people don't have this kind of broadband access.” To close this gap, Noem called on partnerships with Internet service providers and investigating options like Microsoft’s Airband initiative and Google’s Loon project.

Noem also addressed the need for improved government transparency and committed to bolstering access to information through modernized websites and the use of current social networking channels. Additionally, Noem talked about the need to shore up education and workforce training: “I’ve heard it said that 65 percent of children in elementary school today will work in jobs that don’t exist yet,” she said. “These jobs of the future — the jobs our children will depend on to support families of their own — will almost certainly require access to technology, particularly the Internet.” Workforce training and relevant education, presumably with some STEM bent, is essential to making the state competitive.

Read the governor's speech here.

Tennessee

Stars: 2
Address date:
March 4, 2019
To sum it up: For his first state of the state address, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee made it clear that education was going to be his top priority. He proposed a pay raise for the state’s teachers, more training for vocational tech students and $30 million for public safety. In addition, he wants to spend $4 million to boost STEM learning in K-12 schools and increase the number of teachers who are qualified to teach computer science. He also called for investments in the state’s digital infrastructure. “I’m proposing $20 million to boost broadband accessibility, which will make technology like telemedicine more accessible and practical,” said Lee. The governor said nothing else about technology, instead spending much of his speech emphasizing his key priorities that include prison reform and new health-care initiatives, as well as a top-to-bottom focus on improving education.

Read the governor's speech here.

Texas 

Stars: 1
Address date: Feb. 5, 2019
To sum it up: Gov. Greg Abbott’s State of the State address covered many of Texas’ recent successes and areas for improvement, although few directly touched on technology. He praised the state’s growing economy and its diversity in terms of inclusion of women and minority-owned businesses, as well as types of businesses, including those working in cybersecurity. He touted Texas as the national leader and oil and gas production as well as tech exports, and also spoke well of higher education and the quality of research and innovation happening at that level.

Abbott then went on to identify a number of “emergency items” Texas will need to address, including improvement in education in terms of career and college readiness, teacher pay, and creating safe learning environments given the rise in school shootings in recent years. He identified the need to address mental health in schools, and pointed in particular a telemedicine project at Texas Tech to provide mental health care across partner school districts. To address crime, Texas has created six anti-gang centers, and Abbot has called on the Legislature to create six human-trafficking centers as well. Another emergency was property tax reform, which Abbott used as a segue to address the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in late 2017 (Abbott did not give a State of the State speech in 2018).

Read the governor's speech here.
 

Utah

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 30, 2019
To sum it up: Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s State of the State address this year was very forward-looking, and focused on investing in the state’s growth. Despite challenges like devastating wildfires, Herbert described 2018 as a “banner year” for Utah’s prosperity, resulting in a budget surplus of more than $1 billion. Those funds will go toward three main efforts: broadening the tax base and modernizing the tax code; investing in education; and improving the state’s air quality, all of which will include some degree of tech investment. To modernize taxes, as an example Herbert noted that Utah taxes the sale of buggy whips, but ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft are tax-exempt. On the education front, in addition to major investments in school infrastructure and services, Herbert wants to have computer science classes offered to all middle-school students to help get Utah students the skills they need to succeed in a 21st-century workforce.

To improve the state’s air quality, Herbert advocated for putting $100 million toward data-driven efforts to reduce per capita emissions by 25 percent by 2026. This will include reducing miles driven by state employees by increasing public transit use as well as telework, as well as replacing state vehicles with electric options. He also wants to add 300 EV charging stations for public use at state facilities, as well as create incentives for 800 more at private companies.  

Read the governor’s speech here.

Vermont

Stars: 2
Address date: Jan. 10, 2019
To sum it up: In the last decade, Vermont’s population barely changed while the nation as a whole was growing. And its labor force shrank by 15,000, prompting the credit rating service Moody’s to downgrade the state’s bonds. The state’s tax base has shrunk, and enrollment in public schools is dropping in many places. This was a focal point in Gov. Phil Scott’s second inaugural address, which took the place of his annual State of the State speech this year. He talked about the need to revitalize the state in order to bring population growth back, with a range of investments running from K-12 education to broadband expansion. Scott also praised the Agency of Digital Services, which he created through executive order in 2017, for saving the state $4 million. Aside from that, the speech did not make many specific mentions of technology, though he did save some of that for his budget introduction two weeks later.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Virginia

Stars: 3
Address date: Jan. 9, 2019
To sum it up: In his 2019 State of the State address, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam called for a range of tech-related developments in the commonwealth, namely promoting “universal broadband access.” He said it is the top issue he hears from Virginians around the state, as well as from legislators on both sides of the aisle, and that the state will be held back without reliable Internet access for all. Lack of broadband access will hold back health care, entrepreneurship and students, he added.

Northam also called to mind Virginia’s growing foothold in the tech industry given Amazon’s decision to locate one of two of its new outposts in the state. Also, Microsoft will grow an existing data center in Mecklenburg County, creating more than 100 new jobs as part of the company’s TechSpark program. The state is also proposing a Tech Talent Investment Fund to offer grants that incentivize schools to offer computer science degrees and for students to earn them, with the goal of creating up to 17,500 more computer science graduates in the next 20 years. Northam called this an investment in Virginia’s future. The speech also mentioned creating jobs in renewable energy and other emerging technologies.

Washington

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 15, 2019
To sum it up: During his State of the State address on Jan. 15, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee made one direct mention of his government intersecting with technology. This came late in the address, when Inslee noted that Washington was the first state to pass a bill that requires net neutrality in the service of a free and open Internet. Immediately after, he also pointed out that his state is pushing to make sure that all Washingtonians have access to broadband regardless of where they live in the state. Inslee also mentioned innovation often, doing so in the context of the state helping facilitate ways to combat climate change. Indeed, environmental responsibility was the crux of Inslee’s speech, and he connected it to everything from job creation to transportation projects.

Read the governor's speech here.

West Virginia

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 9, 2019
To sum it up: The third State of the State address from Gov. Jim Justice included few references to technology and no specific initiatives for it, besides one: He wants to make West Virginia the first state to offer computer science classes in every high school. This is tied to his top priority for the state, which he reiterated many times is education, and making West Virginia’s students and workforce more competitive. Other references at least somewhat related to technology included an appeal to citizens to buy E-Z Passes to avoid the new toll increase on the turnpike; a mention of developing a number of lakes for hydroelectric power; plans to build a new forensic lab for the West Virginia State Police; and an investment in equipment at vocational training centers for drug addicts trying to get clean and find steady work. To that extent, technology is an unavoidable component of many of Justice’s budget priorities, but he said nothing of IT or innovation as objectives by themselves.

Instead, Justice opened with a before-and-after comparison between West Virginia’s dire financial straits when he took office and the state’s present outlook, boasting its largest-ever budget surplus. For 2019 he pledged pay raises for teachers and state employees; infrastructure investments; and more, including, most important to Justice, a big swing at West Virginia’s drug epidemic. The initiative, under the label “Jim’s Dream,” would commit over $50 million to adult education programs, abuse prevention, addiction treatment, work training centers and a program that would permit recovering addicts to have a misdemeanor expunged from their record in exchange for getting clean and earning a professional certification.

Read the governor's speech here.

Wisconsin

Stars: 1
Address date: Jan. 22, 2019
To sum it up: Incoming Gov. Tony Evers mentioned technology at the beginning of his State of the State address, when he said that he’s asked the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to create an innovation and entrepreneurship committee to concentrate on supporting small businesses, seed capital funds and technology development. Evers boasted that the state was once an innovation leader. “But today,” he lamented, “we are a state that’s behind on broadband expansion, and we trail the country in startups and small business creation.” 

Evers then discussed other ways to measure Wisconsin’s success besides job creation: quality of natural resources, availability of affordable health care and housing, and closing the achievement gap in education. The new governor has retained state CIO David Cagigal, who has held the position since 2011, so he will likely continue building on IT successes like BadgerNet, the statewide broadband network for state government and education entities.

Read the governor’s speech here.

Wyoming

Stars: 3
Address date:
Jan. 9, 2019
To sum it up: Gov. Mark Gordon delivered his first State of the State address two days after taking the oath of office and quickly hit on the theme of emphasizing the needs of education, local communities, effective government and state infrastructure. He touted a suite of proposals, including Wyoming Works, which would offer avenues for high school students and adults to continue their technical education, in addition to developing technical education programs at community colleges.

The governor put his support behind a new trust fund, supported by private industry and the state, that would offer scholarships for career and technical education. He also backed the ongoing effort to enhance broadband Internet access throughout the state, saying that it is essential for students to succeed and for the state to get health care where it is needed. “Not only does broadband give our students a tool to compete with the rest of the world, it is necessary for health-care delivery, especially in rural areas where other specialized doctors are not available,” he said. He said advancements in technology improve quality of life, solve challenges, create jobs, and allow entrepreneurs and businesses to thrive.

Read the governor's speech here.