As the Donald Trump presidency begins and his administration takes shape, there will naturally be a large focus on the federal government and the work of the executive and legislative branches. State and local governments are hard at work as well, and while issues are being debated in Congress over a long period of time, we should find more opportunities to engage at the state level.
More than half of the nation’s governors have provided State of the State addresses to their constituents. View the text of your governor’s speech here. Not surprising, many of the returning governors began by focusing on accomplishments from the last year. Those ranged from the number of jobs created and bills signed into law, to amount of investments made and key results. However, 31 states are facing budget shortfalls and many governors addressed this fiscal situation in their states.
Job creation was a major theme in all of the speeches, affirming the important work of Goodwill in providing job training and workforce development to those who face challenges to employment. Among the populations served by Goodwill, people with disabilities and people who face homelessness were the two mentioned least collectively in the speeches. At the same time, the needs of veterans and people with criminal backgrounds were commonly discussed.
Goodwill was specifically referenced in remarks by Indiana Governor, Eric Holcomb when he announced that he was appointing Jim McClelland, the former long-time CEO of Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana (Indianapolis) to lead efforts dealing with drug abuse treatment and prevention. Unfortunately, many states are dealing with a challenging drug epidemic which was alluded to by a number of Governors who are committed to taking action.
On the heels of the Trump Administration’s focus on infrastructure, many governors spoke about the infrastructure needs in their states, including roads and bridges to improving schools. Of course education reform in general was a common topic both in the context of funding and the cost of higher education but also on the need to provide better STEM education to give students the skills needed for the jobs of the future, particularly those jobs in the cyber community.
Finally, in response to Congressional action taken to repeal the Affordable Care Act, most Governors spoke about health care while very few touched specifically on Medicaid, Medicare, or social security.
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. 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.