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State of the States 2017: An Analysis of the 2017 Governors’ Addresses

June 14, 2017
By Jonathan Williams, Joel Griffith, Elliot Young, Christine Smith

This report, written by American Legislative Exchange Council chief economist Jonathan Williams, examines all 50 state governors’ annual speeches, identifying trends in legislative priorities.

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This report, written by American Legislative Exchange Council chief economist Jonathan Williams, examines all 50 state governors’ annual speeches, identifying trends in their legislative priorities.

Governors’ priorities for 2017 are similar to 2016 priorities, Williams writes.

“A number of different trends and priorities regarding economic policy were apparent after a full review of these addresses,” Williams writes. “Following a similar trend observed in the majority of 2016 State of the State addresses, many governors focused a considerable portion of their addresses on the issue of tax relief. Aside from tax proposals, governors discussed a number of different policy topics which, while less directly related, can still significantly affect state economies. Some of the most important of these issues included pension reform, expanding or shrinking Medicaid, changes to the state’s minimum wage and government efficiency.

Most governors say they understand the importance of tax relief and small government, Williams writes.

“Overall, most governors conveyed an understanding that lower tax rates and limited government give citizens and businesses a greater incentive to reside and operate in their states relative to others with higher tax rates and more regulations,” Williams writes. “Generally, states with lower tax rates, fewer regulations and responsible spending habits outperform other states in terms of economic growth. Based on the observations made in reviewing the 2017 State of the State addresses, many governors are following these policies to help their states better compete for residents, jobs and capital.