Governors: States Embrace Innovation

LAS VEGAS—National Governors Association (NGA) Chair Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Vice Chair Montana Gov. Steve Bullock today delivered the 2018 State of the States Address, which focused on innovation happening at the state level. They also outlined governors’ collective priorities for Congress and the Administration.

“Governors are truly the nation’s chief innovators, fostering new technologies, creating new opportunities and laying the foundation for an innovative future,” said Gov. Sandoval. “What better backdrop than Las Vegas—the heart of the American West—to show how states are at the forefront of innovation?”

In his remarks, Gov. Sandoval drew heavily on transportation and energy to illustrate opportunities for innovation, including autonomous and electric vehicle technology, drones, ridesharing, and more. (His NGA chair’s initiative, Ahead of the Curve: Innovation Governors, focuses on how states can respond to emerging technology in the energy and transportation sectors.)

He also touched on the uncertainty at the federal level regarding infrastructure. “The President has an incredible opportunity to invigorate not just our approach to infrastructure spending, but also to the funding stream state and local governments rely on most: the Highway Trust Fund,” said Gov. Sandoval.

In addition, he called on the federal government to “match the rapid pace of autonomous vehicle innovation” with the states, saying state and federal coordination on this issue will remain critical.

Gov. Sandoval and Gov. Bullock delivered the remarks from the site of the Consumer Electronics Show Government conference, where they participated in a panel on state innovation directly preceding the event.

Gov. Bullock provided multiple examples of states as innovators, such as an online portal in Montana that helps business owners start or relaunch their businesses; a technology platform in Maryland that lets social workers use tablets in the field; and geospatial “hot-spotting” that allows states like Alaska and Wisconsin (plus Puerto Rico) to improve health care outcomes for those on Medicaid.

“On any given day, you can visit any statehouse across our nation, and find government actually functioning for the betterment of communities,” said Gov. Bullock. “More often than not, you can see Democrats and Republicans working together to address challenges—because the closer government is to the people, the less the focus on partisanship.

“Working across party lines can be difficult, but as governors, we know the best policy comes from working with people who don’t always agree with us.”

Gov. Bullock also reflected on the 39 states and territories with gubernatorial elections in 2018 and welcomed two new colleagues, Governor-Elect Phil Murphy of New Jersey, who takes office Tuesday, and Governor-Elect Ralph Northam, who is inaugurated in Virginia tomorrow.

“At the end of the day, governors innovate without regard to politics or partisanship,” said Gov. Sandoval in his closing remarks. “We are competitive without being antagonistic. Together we are singularly focused on one mission: advancing economic and social opportunities for the people of our states and improving their quality of life.”