Budget Blog

January State of the State Speeches Highlight Improved Conditions and Remaining Challenges

By Brian Sigritz posted 02-07-2024 09:24 AM

Blog title with an image of a podium


Through January, governors from 31 states and territories have delivered a State of the State address. In their speeches most governors reported the state of their state is strong, with several noting it is stronger than it ever has been. Governors also described the state of the state as ascending, full of opportunity, fairer, healthier, safer, more affordable, underestimated, resolute, and ready to rock. Governors attributed their state’s strength to economic growth, job gains, improved fiscal conditions, working together, seeking excellence, resilience and resolve, a high quality of life, chartering their own path, and the strength of their people. While governors had a mostly positive outlook, they also discussed the need to ensure all communities are thriving, address affordability, attract workers, collaborate, tackle challenges, be fiscally responsible, act boldly, put people first, and strive for a better tomorrow. Areas of emphasis in January addresses have included the cost of living; housing affordability; literacy efforts; early learning and childcare; workforce challenges; substance abuse; behavioral health; public safety; infrastructure projects; water quality; and tax reform.

Below are trends from 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:

Childcare and Early Learning – the need for expanded preschool programs including universal pre-k for all four-year-olds; investments to stabilize the childcare sector; an expanded childcare workforce; and new childcare tax credit programs.

Elementary and Secondary Education – proposals to increase pay for teachers and support staff; reexamine education funding formulas; support literacy programs; boost student achievement; remove educational barriers; increase school choice; provide greater transparency in voucher programs; enhance school-based behavioral health services; reform the special education system; increase investments in school safety; modernize school facilities; and provide additional funding for school transportation and food services.

Higher Education – efforts to increase postsecondary accessibility; expand dual enrollment programs; create more three-year and associate degree options; provide tuition-free community college; freeze tuition for four-year universities; and examine the statewide higher education system.

Workforce – steps to address workforce challenges including support for in-demand careers; efforts to attract and retain workers; expanded apprenticeships; career training; investments in growing industries; assistance for homegrown companies; providing rural workforce housing; licensing reform; state employee pay raises; and paid family leave.

Housing and Homelessness – strategies to make housing more affordable and increase housing options including down payment and loan assistance; expanding housing tax credits; zoning and permitting reform; additional investments to build and rehabilitate homes; new programs aimed at middle class housing; returning short-term rentals to the housing market; combatting housing discrimination; expanding shelter capacity; and increasing help and services for those in need.

Substance Abuse – increased investments to fight against fentanyl and other opioids including through education, boosting Naloxone distribution, additional treatment beds, and recovery support.

Healthcare – initiatives to improve health outcomes for those living in rural and underserved areas; lower the cost of medical care; reduce costs of prescription drugs including through importation; expand Medicaid postpartum coverage; pass medical debt relief; increase healthcare provider rates; attract and retain healthcare professionals; upgrade medical facilities; and restructure state healthcare system.

Behavioral Health – the need for additional funding for behavioral health; implementation of community behavioral health centers; reducing barriers and addressing gaps in mental health services; ensuring care for young people; more psychiatric inpatient beds; intervention training for law enforcement; and eliminating waiting lists.

Public Safety – proposals to add public safety officers; increase pay for law enforcement; create loan repayment programs; reduce crime; prevent gun violence; combat human trafficking; increase penalties for drug dealers and other offenses; and focus on rehabilitation programs and mental health services.

Infrastructure – plans for use of additional federal funds and grants; highway and road construction; repair and replacement of dilapidated bridges; investments in public transit; broadband expansion; and filling other infrastructure gaps.

Water Quality – a series of measures to improve water quality and ensure a stable water supply including increasing conservation, exploring new technology, strengthening protections, and maintaining the state’s water sovereignty.

Natural Resources and Environment – efforts to lower the cost of energy; ensure a sustainable energy supply; support clean energy; cut greenhouse gases; increase resiliency to climate change; strengthen the agriculture industry; enhance outdoor opportunities; and protect farmland from foreign interests.

Tax Reform – recommendations to cut personal income taxes; provide property tax relief; eliminate grocery tax on food; target tax relief for veterans and retirees; close tax loopholes; and create or expand various tax credits including for earned income, children and dependents, housing, manufacturing, and research and development.

Other – other proposals focused on providing disaster relief; examining artificial intelligence; improving food security; supporting border security; protecting children from social media; streamlining boards and commissions; promoting voter participation; addressing rural challenges; and encouraging economic diversification.