Governors Declaring Policy Priorities for 2015

Governors Declaring Policy Priorities for 2015

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Legislatures in more than 40 states have convened in recent weeks, and governors are taking the opportunity to set their agendas through inaugural addresses and annual State of the State/Commonwealth speeches. A few recurring topics across the states may hold some interest for charitable nonprofits:

  • Economic Development: Several governors used their addresses to highlight economic improvements and discuss ways that government can continue to aid in developing economic success. Governor Kitzhaber in Oregon stated that “the role of government is not to fix things, but to create a space in which people can fix things themselves.” In New York, Governor Cuomo proposed $1.5 billion in funding for upstate development and infrastructure programs, including e xpanding access to broadband internet. In New Mexico, Governor Martinez pushed for further economic development funds for “Main Street districts” in rural areas of the state where small businesses are opening and growing. Governor Meads in Wyoming also recognized the importance of local governments in economic development, and promised to further his commitment to properly funding local governments and to addressing backlog and delays in government services.
  • Education: Many governors put educating of children and creating a better future workforce at the heart of their annual proposals. Governor Sandoval of Nevada promised to work on increasing pre-school attendance rates, where Nevada currently ranks last among the states. Governor Walker in Alaska promised to shield education from any potential budget cuts, and Governor Beshears reemphasized his priority to create an educated workforce in Kentucky that “executives can’t wait to hire.”
  • Other Issues: Many Governors also took time to address two issues affecting most states and the nonprofit community: income inequality and clean energy. Governor Kitzhaber of Oregon, and others, worried about the growing disparity between the economically prosperous in his state and those who struggle every day for basic necessities. He challenged the legislature to not ignore this mounting issue and to work together and with the community to find solutions. The environment and clean energy were also of interest to many states. In Washington, Governor Inslee proposed a carbon tax that would increase rates on the highest polluters – one step in what he called a “moral obligation” to protect a healthy Washington for generations to come. Governor Snyder in Michigan also discussed the need for cleaner energy, and proposed the creation of a state agency dedicated to affordability, reliability, and protection of the environment.

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