2024 State of the States Highlights

By Laura Walling, Vice President of Government Affairs, Goodwill Industries International

More than half of the governors of states, territories and commonwealths have outlined their priorities for 2024 in state of the state or commonwealth addresses, as well as inaugural addresses for new and re-elected governors, with several more anticipated over the next few weeks. View the text of your Governor’s speech.  The nation’s governors are nearly evenly split between the two parties, with 27 Republicans and 23 Democrats holding office as of January 8, 2024. Eleven states will hold gubernatorial elections this year.
The following is a list of common themes of interest to Goodwill and the people we serve:

Arizona: Referenced investments in Future48 workforce accelerators, which will prepare people for jobs in industries like semiconductors, renewable energy, aerospace, and defense. The Build It AZ Apprenticeship Initiative also aims to double the number of apprentices in construction and the trades.

Colorado: Need to continue to invest in free community and technical college for in-demand careers as well as expand apprenticeships for both the public and private sector. Proposed new tax credits for the quantum industry.

Georgia: Proposed a pay increase for all state employees including teachers.

Idaho: LAUNCH grants cover 80 percent of the cost, up to $8,000, to enroll in an education or training program after high school that aligns with an in-demand career.

Indiana: Need to create better awareness of the state’s Next Level Jobs programs through a new statewide campaign. Discussed the need to expand the childcare workforce to help working parents.

Iowa: It was announced that a 2018 initiative to increase the number of Iowans with workforce training or education beyond high school from 58% to 70% by 2025 was achieved ahead of schedule.

Massachusetts: Noted initiatives to support advanced manufacturing, life sciences, clean energy, and other industries to help grow and diversify the state’s workforce.

Nebraska: Highlighted initiatives to support Nebraska-grown companies, give businesses credit for bringing new residents to the state, help local communities and businesses meet childcare needs, attract teachers, invest in rural workforce housing, and allow higher education institutions to meet the workforce needs of tomorrow.

New Jersey: Announced the creation of New Jersey’s AI Moonshot to increase research and development in artificial intelligence and to help power breakthroughs.

New York: Discussed unlocking the economic potential of artificial intelligence and investing in workforce development. Announced the creation of the Office of Service and Civic Engagement to promote civic and service opportunities. Proposed expanding loan repayment programs for the state’s youth mental health professionals, as well as removing barriers to hiring “qualified candidates.”

Rhode Island: Talked about efforts to make the state a life science leader and grow the cybersecurity industry.

South Dakota: Intend to continue the Freedom Works Here workforce recruitment campaign to encourage employees in high-need industries to move to the state.

Virginia: Proposal to expand universal licensing would make it easier for people moving to the state to get to work.

West Virginia: Recommended a pay raise for all state employees including teachers and service personnel. Need to continue to train and attract nurses, EMS workers, youth services workers, and public safety officers.

Worker Supports
Michigan: Propose up to $5,000 in tax relief for caregivers.

Minnesota: New program would give military staff and active-duty families up to $1,800 a month to pay for childcare

New York: Highlighted a six-point maternal and infant health agenda; increased access to high-quality childcare; and an anti-poverty pilot program.

Virginia: Building Blocks for Virginia Families initiative will make significant investments in early learning and childcare, while reducing red tape.

Arizona: Recommended education funding changes and more accountability and transparency in the state’s school voucher program. Called for the creation of several new medical schools and examining ways to make higher education as accessible as possible.

Colorado: Highlighted recent initiatives to expand access to preschool, boost student achievement, and increase education funding at all levels.

Georgia: Called for continued support of the state’s direct college admission program, and  taking an all-of-the-above approach to schooling choices.

Hawaii: Requested additional funding for public schools, including for food service and student transportation programs.

Idaho: Supported a bill to cut red tape for charter schools, and a grant program to help students enroll in an education or training program after high school that aligns with an in-demand career.

Indiana: Called for requiring computer science to graduate from high school, and creating more three-year and associated degree options at public universities.

Kansas: Will continue to reject vouchers that would divert public education dollars to private schools. Also called for fully funding special education.

Kentucky: Called for fully funding student transportation, universal pre-K for all four-year-olds, and record funding to help childcare providers.

Massachusetts: Continued investments in early college programs and career training. Recommended universal pre-K access for every 4-year-old and continued additional investments to stabilize the childcare sector.

New Jersey: Recommended expanding the state’s effort for universal pre-K.

Rhode Island: Prioritize learning, gains in attendance, and provide more funding for math and English language arts coaching.

South Dakota: Renewed emphasis on increasing teacher pay and extending free tuition for National Guardsmen to private colleges.

Vermont: Called for solutions to the growing cost of education.

Virginia: Recommended additional funding for elementary and secondary education and reexamining the state’s education funding formula.

Washington: Called for pay raises for paraeducators, raising the cap on special education funding, creating more incentives for teachers to serve special needs students, and continued support for apprenticeship and college financial aid programs.

West Virginia: Initiatives to help remove education barriers, seed money for charter schools, and dual enrollment programs. Initiative for veterans to pay in-state tuition at public universities.

Housing and Homelessness
Arizona: Discussed down payment assistance, mortgage interest rate relief, and providing access to less costly home loans for working-class households.

Colorado and New Jersey: Called for solutions to build more affordable housing.

Hawaii: Said affordable housing remains the administration’s top priority. Highlighted the state’s efforts to reduce homelessness by 50 percent within four years.

Massachusetts: Called for passing the Affordable Homes Act which will help create middle-class housing; build affordable homes at every income level; create supportive homes for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities; and support good construction careers.

New Mexico: Called for low-interest loans to help spur the private sector to build housing faster and requiring localities to institute zoning and permitting requirements.

New York: Announced a four-part proposal to help New York City increase its housing supply, the creation of a capital fund to support the development of housing on state-owned land, and efforts to combat housing discrimination.

Utah: Utah First Homes program has goal of building 35,000 starter homes within 5 years.

Vermont: Fix vacant units, construct new homes, and expand shelter capacity.

Washington: Invest in building more housing and connecting people to the right services.

Arizona: Need to strengthen standards for sober living homes and long-term care facilities.

Colorado: Called for more support for behavioral healthcare.

Georgia: Called for additional funding to help address mental health needs.

Hawaii: Discussed a loan repayment program for healthcare professionals that will help increase healthcare access for rural and underserved communities.

Iowa: Proposed expanding Medicaid postpartum care coverage. Talked about increasing support for behavioral health services.

Kansas and Kentucky: Discussed Medicaid expansion.

Massachusetts: Need to support the implementation of community behavioral health centers and ensure care for vulnerable young people.

New York: Investments in mental health including more ways to support individuals struggling with drug addiction.

Rhode Island: Investments to increase healthcare provider rates and support behavioral health needs, fully funding early Intervention rate increases, and creating a working group to examine ways to improve the state’s healthcare system.

South Dakota: Spoke about efforts to improve health outcomes for those living in rural communities and providing increased services for both pregnant mothers and their babies.

Utah: Increase number of licensed professionals to help those struggling with mental health.

Viginia: Continue to reform the behavioral health system and eliminate the wait list for people with developmental disabilities.

Washington: Proposed increased investments to fight against opioids and fentanyl.

West Virginia: Additional funding for hospitals, senior centers, and other healthcare programs.

Colorado: Efforts to support clean energy, protect public lands, strengthen native biodiversity, and implement the state’s water plan.

Hawaii: Invest in renewable energy and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. Also called for a $25 Climate Impact Fee on visitors to help provide resources to protect the environment.

Massachusetts: Creating a permanent Disaster Relief Resiliency Fund as well as increased funding to help localities plan for the future.

New Jersey: Commitment to 100 percent clean energy by 2035.

New Mexico: Proposed an advanced manufacturing tax credit to help grow a clean technology supply chain, an expansion of the EV charging network, and an infrastructure matching fund for localities.

New York: Outlined plans to make clean energy more affordable.

Washington: Path to cut greenhouse gases 95 percent by 2050 and invest in work that reduces pollution and creates good-paying jobs.

Criminal Justice and Public Safety
New Mexico: Required treatment for those repeatedly entering the criminal justice system because of substance abuse.

New York and Washington: Address retail theft, including the creation of an organized retail theft taskforce.

South Dakota: Evaluate second-chance opportunities and proposed legislation to provide second-chance license opportunities for people with criminal histories.

Vermont: Consider new strategies to reduce crime rates, while acknowledging progress on justice reform and treating addiction as a public health crisis.

Tax Reform
Georgia: Plan to decrease the state income tax to 5.39 percent starting this year.

Hawaii: Recommended additional tax relief including a child and dependent tax credit.

Idaho: On track to deliver additional property tax relief this year.

Nebraska: Called for cutting property taxes by 40 percent this year in part through repurposing existing credits.

Rhode Island: Goal to raise per capita income by a minimum of $20,000 by the year 2030. The state will prioritize programs and initiatives that will help raise incomes.

Virginia: Called for income tax cuts, expanding the earned income tax credit, and increasing the sales and use tax.

West Virginia: Recommended eliminating Social Security taxes and the creation of a Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for families unable to find affordable childcare.

Idaho, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and West Virginia: Proposed additional investments for transportation projects, roads, and bridge repair and replacement.

Kentucky: Requested renewal of economic development programs focused on securing major projects and site development. Proposed additional investments for road construction and bridge repair.

While some of the political rhetoric made it very clear if the Governor was speaking in a “blue” state or a “red” state there was a common theme of using bipartisan approaches, collaboration across all stakeholders, and the need to work together. In fact, a year-long initiative undertaken by the National Governor’s Association is focused on how to “disagree better”. You are a stakeholder within your state and should look for opportunities to engage around the issues of importance to you and your community, your local Goodwill, and the individuals served.