The beginning of the new year means governors are giving their annual state of the state addresses, celebrating accomplishments and outlining priorities in their states for the coming year. Speeches are scheduled to continue over the next few months, but some governors have already made bold statements to advance CTE.
Indiana’s Governor Eric J. Holcomb vowed to re-configure and align existing workforce development programs with new initiatives in order to develop a skilled and ready 21st century workforce. This includes a promise to invest $2 million in a regional “Jobs Ready Grants” program to help current workers complete credentials in high-demand, high-wage fields. Additionally the governor plans to invest $1 million each year to better coordinate STEM education across the state.
In South Dakota, Governor Dennis Daugaard applauded his state’s recent efforts related to CTE and dual enrollment. In 2016 the state awarded workforce education grants to help transform high school CTE programs, which resulted in new auto mechanic, precision agriculture and nursing programs. The state’s postsecondary Build Dakota program provided full-ride scholarships to approximately 300 students for a second year. Students in the program attend a technical institute in a high-need program and promise to work in that field in South Dakota upon graduation. Governor Daugaard celebrated the fact that while enrollment in two-year institutions is down nationally by 17 percent, enrollment in Build Dakota programs has increased by 10 percent.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker discussed multiple workforce development initiatives his state has undertaken in recent years, including investments in the Wisconsin Fast Forward program, a grant program supporting employer-led programs for training workers. The state has also doubled enrollment in the Youth Apprenticeship program. Another investment has been Project SEARCH, which provides students with disabilities with targeted classroom support and internships. There are currently 18 Project SEARCH sites, and the state aims to increase that number to 27 by the next school year. Additionally the state has increased investment in the Wisconsin Technical College System, opening 5,000 more slots for students in high-demand areas. At the secondary level, the state has focused in the last year on investing more in college and career readiness planning and increasing access to dual enrollment options.
Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas made quite a few statements regarding education in his address. Among more general promises to continue to build high-quality CTE programs and improving the state accountability system, he also encouraged the state’s postsecondary institutions to provide bachelor’s degree options for $15,000 or less. Additionally he announced plans to reform the state teacher certification and salary systems to attract more teachers to the state.
In Colorado, Governor John Hickenlooper celebrated programs like Skillful and CareerWise Colorado, which help students develop new skills for new careers and have received over $15 million in grant funding over the last 18 months. He also held up the state’s work specifically in cybersecurity training, and the growing demand for more skills-based training. The state is facing a $170 million drop in education funding from property taxes this summer, which Governor Hickenlooper vowed to address.
Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect were major features in Governor Bill Haslam’s address. Through Tennessee Promise, students attend community and technical colleges tuition free, and Tennessee Reconnect offers that same opportunity for adults already in the workforce. The governor also addressed plans to fully fund the Basic Education Program, which would provide an additional $15 million for CTE equipment.
Ashleigh McFadden, State Policy Manager