Through January, 32 governors have given a State of the State address. In their speeches many governors said the state of the state is strong, yet they also noted challenges remain. Governors spoke about how their state is in a better position than a few years ago, while also discussing the need to continue to move forward, take bold action, and help future generations. Like previous years, education remained a focus in governors’ speeches. However, in this year’s addresses other areas received increased focus including workforce development, substance abuse, mental health, housing and homelessness, public safety, water quality and availability, economic development, and tax relief.
Below are selected highlights of State of the State speeches through January. To read individual summaries of State of the State addresses, please click here.
Key Speech Highlights
In their addresses, governors discussed:
Elementary and Secondary Education – the need to increase funding and reform funding formulas; expand mental health programs; address learning loss; add support for low-income children, special education, and English learners; increase literacy efforts; improve school safety; expand school choice; and increase teacher pay as well as other efforts to attract and retain teachers.
Higher Education – efforts to reduce costs including additional support for scholarships and grants awards; expanding dual enrollment programs; investing in community colleges; and addressing deferred maintenance.
Workforce – a series of steps to address workforce challenges including increased skills training, apprenticeships, career and technical education, and support for high-demand fields. Also discussed were other efforts to make it easier for people to work including paid family and medical leave as well as childcare support. To help attract and retain state workers, governors proposed salary increases, retention bonuses, and benefit changes.
Substance Abuse – the increased use of fentanyl and other opioids while calling for policies such as expanded treatment and recovery options; campaigns to raise awareness of the dangers of fentanyl; decriminalizing fentanyl testing strips; making naloxone more readily available; and increasing penalties for drug dealers.
Mental Health – the need to expand mental health resources including new prevention efforts; expanding the capacity of the pediatric behavioral healthcare system; increasing capacity for inpatient psychiatric treatment; and additional funding to recruit and retain mental health professionals.
Other Healthcare – a series of other measures including efforts aimed at increasing accessibility and affordability; helping people save money on prescriptions; expanded support for new and expectant mothers; additional funding for public health; greater rural healthcare options; and expanding Medicaid.
Housing and Homelessness – proposals to tackle affordable housing; create more housing supply; streamline the construction process; provide down payment assistance; create new tax credits for low-income home buyers; partner with localities and developers; increase supportive housing; and expand services for the homeless.
Public Safety – the need for additional support for local law enforcement officials; increased penalties for certain offenses; continued support for law enforcement through better training, oversight, and mental health resources; strategies to reduce gun violence; funding to repair and replace state prisons; juvenile justice reforms; and pay increases for public safety workers.
Natural Resources and Environment – the importance of addressing water challenges including the availability and quality of water; expanding wildfire prevention efforts; advancing forest management; supporting agriculture; and investing in clean energy as well as other policies to address climate change.
Infrastructure – additional investments to repair roads and bridges; structural reforms to transportation systems; updates to railway crossings; building out electric vehicle charging stations; expanding broadband; and trail improvements.
Budget and Fiscal Stability – improved budgetary conditions over the past few years due to steps such as building up reserves, paying down debt, and making additional pension payments while also stressing the need to maintain fiscal discipline.
Economic Development – the importance of economic development including through diversifying the economy, preparing for the jobs of tomorrow, enacting policies that promote job growth, and capital investments for large scale development projects.
Government Reforms – a series of measures including consolidating the number of state agencies, greater transparency, ethics reforms, licensing reform, and placing a moratorium on new rulemaking.
Tax Relief – tax cuts in several areas such as reducing personal income tax rates; property tax cuts; targeted tax relief including for the middle class and seniors; eliminating the sales tax on food; establishing new tax credits; and business tax reforms.
Other – other proposals focused on encouraging adoption and foster care; supporting nursing homes; addressing the cost of living and inflation; additional benefits for veterans; legalizing sports betting; permitting medical marijuana; and modernizing IT infrastructure.