President Obama has yet to deliver his 2013 State of the Union address, but 44 governors already have made their annual remarks regarding their states. Examining the addresses, common themes arise — most notably economic development. But we set out to consider the state speeches in the context of issues relevant to The Next America.
Namely, we searched for issues about diversity and immigration. Given that Obama places immigration reform in his top two goals for his second term, we were interested in seeing how many governors addressed immigration in their speeches. The number?
5 of 44
governors mentioned the word
"immigration" or "immigrant" in their 2013 addresses
Three are border states to Mexico (Arizona, California, and New Mexico); the others are Illinois and Massachusetts.
Governing.com has a page of links to most state of the state address from the nation's governors; here are those for Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Virginia not linked on it as of Feb. 8. Four of the remaining governors (New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia) will give their remarks in February, with one in March (Florida) and the last in April (Louisiana).
The purpose of the early-term speeches in many states is a report on the budget, so perhaps it's not surprising that concepts of equality or integration by race and class are not directly addressed; however, the unedited excerpts below show that 20 state leaders touched on issues relevant to a diversifying nation, either loosely, historically, or directly:
Robert Bentley, Alabama
Fifty years ago, our great state of Alabama stood poised on center stage as a series of historical events unfolded around us."¦ By year's end, Alabama would see many peaceful protestors jailed for daring to advocate equal treatment for all people. The University of Alabama would enroll its first African-American students."¦ I will always firmly uphold these Truths which are self-evident, that all men are created equal....
Jan Brewer, Arizona
Of course, you can't discuss Arizona's relationship with the federal government without mentioning Mexico and our shared border. I've heard the earnest calls for immigration reform. I agree our nation's system is broken and has been for decades. To the reformers, I say: Demonstrate your stated commitment to a secure border by making that your first priority.
After so many broken promises — so many starts and stops with border security — join me in holding the federal government to account. Once our border is secure, I pledge to work with all fair-minded people to reform our nation's immigration system.
It must once again combine the rule of law and human compassion, providing safety for our citizens and facilitating our economic relationship with Mexico — Arizona's largest trade partner. We've already seen the border largely secured in the Yuma Sector.
The steep decline in illegal crossings is proof that our border can be secured when the federal government employs the right mix of fencing, manpower, and technology. Now, I ask the president to finish the job.
Secure the Tucson sector, the most heavily-traveled gateway for illegal crossings into this country. Fulfill your promise to the American people, and I'll make good on mine. In the meantime, because I will never shy away from taking actions necessary to protect our state, I will be issuing an executive order establishing a task force against human trafficking. This is truly a crime against humanity — a modern-day slavery in which men, women, and children are sold into forced labor or prostitution....
Jerry Brown, California
What is this but the most diverse, creative, and longest-standing mass migration in the history of the world. That is California."¦
California's exports are booming and our place in the world economy has never been stronger. Our ties with The People's Republic of China in particular are deep — from the Chinese immigrants crossing the Pacific in 1848 to hosting China's next president in Los Angeles last February."¦
In the right order of things, education — the early fashioning of character and the formation of conscience — comes before legislation. Nothing is more determinative of our future than how we teach our children. If we fail at this, we will sow growing social chaos and inequality that no law can rectify."¦
This formula recognizes the fact that a child in a family making $20,000 a year or speaking a language different from English or living in a foster home requires more help. Equal treatment for children in unequal situations is not justice....
Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii
Our teachers and children's caregivers need to be supported to help our keiki succeed."¦ Our approach is ambitious but pragmatic. It allows for all children to be equally prepared to learn. School readiness is the key to efficient and effective learning....
Butch Otter, Idaho
Idaho is a work in progress, and what's past is prologue. No less today than in 1863 — and in many ways more than ever — we citizens of Idaho have the opportunity and indeed the obligation to chart a path forward reflecting our independence, our self-reliance, and our love of liberty. We are the products of the "new birth of freedom" that Lincoln proclaimed at Gettysburg."¦
We all want an Idaho where government promotes and protects equal justice under law while carefully, consistently, and fiercely safeguarding individual and private property rights guaranteed by the Constitution."¦
Today I'd like to talk with you about how we use that freedom to advance our shared goals and values. That involves thinking about public policy and the proper role of government in terms of the next generation — not just the next election — in order to build a more responsible, sustainable, and inclusive future.
Pat Quinn, Illinois
And we've awarded micro-loans to hundreds of businesses, primarily to minority- and women-owned small businesses in high-need communities. In the past four years, we've increased the participation of minority- and women-owned firms in state contracts. And we're going to do more."¦
But four years ago, there was no scholarship program for high school graduates from immigrant families. We changed that by creating the Illinois Dream Commission.
And just a few days ago, we made history in Illinois, becoming the fifth state in the Union to legalize driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. This will make our roads safer and our families stronger. Thank you, Representative Eddie Acevedo and the entire Latino Caucus."¦
Sam Brownback, Kansas
The guiding principle of our American democracy must be that every citizen stands equal before the law, be they governor or farmer, lawyer or teacher....
Paul LePage, Maine
School choice should not be just for the wealthy elite. Rather as Horace Mann stated in 1846 — "Education is the great equalizer." ...
Martin O'Malley, Maryland
Recognizing that our diversity is our greatest strength, we move forward toward the most ambitious goal in America from empowering women and minority owned businesses....
Deval Patrick, Massachusetts
For pilgrims seeking to worship freely, for slaves seeking freedom, for immigrants seeking a better way, for your mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers seeking a toehold in the middle class, Massachusetts has beckoned seekers as a land of opportunity."¦
And yet today in Massachusetts, only 61 percent of all third-graders are proficient in English Language Arts. For African-Americans, the number is 38 percent; for Hispanics, 36 percent. Toddlers, infants, other preschoolers, 300,000 of them are on the wait list for early-education opportunities.
Mark Dayton, Minnesota
I want all of us, and especially Minnesota's future generations, to live in a healthy environment; in safe, inclusive communities; and with the same rights and protections as every other American citizen....
Steve Bullock, Montana
But our public schools are even more than that — they are, truly, the great equalizer....
Dave Heineman, Nebraska
We continue to expand and strengthen our relationship with China, just like we have done with Canada, Mexico, Japan, and many other countries....
Brian Sandoval, Nevada
As we make these investments, we must also recognize how Nevada has changed: Our schools are more diverse. More than 15 percent of Nevada's students are English-language learners."¦
And, missions to Mexico and Israel are planned to expand Nevada's global footprint. I am committed to leaving no stone unturned — no road not taken.
Susana Martinez, New Mexico
We are building our state's strongest-ever relationship with Mexico's border governors, focusing on creating jobs by developing a border region near Santa Teresa. "¦
Let me tell you about a program called the Bridge. The Bridge program was created in response to the gaps that existed between the needs of a 21st century economy and the preparedness of high school graduates in Dona Ana County. It's a partnership between the local business community, their community college and state university, and their public schools. Together, they established the state's first early college high school. The school is located on land donated by New Mexico State University, and it offers dual credits that are accepted by Dona Ana Community College.
Every student who will graduate from this school not only earns a high school diploma, but they also earn an associate's degree and, in some cases, a work-ready certificate. That student is ready to be hired.
Today, we are issuing an achievement award for one of the Bridge students, Maria Guadalupe Carillo. Maria is the first person in her family to attend college. As a high school junior, Maria has already earned 48 college hours. And when she finishes this high school program, she will enter NMSU as a college senior. Congratulations, Maria. New Mexico is proud of you.
Since the Bridge program has been operating, not one student has dropped out. And let's remember, 78 percent of the students are Hispanic, an incredible 63 percent are first-generation college students, and 43 percent come from low-income families. This is one tool helping the Las Cruces graduation rate rise from 51 percent to 72 percent in just the last four years."¦
For students looking to attend college, I'm asking the Legislature to embrace several other reform opportunities for our high school students, including $2.5 million to expand Advanced Placement courses to provide AP test waivers for low-income minority students, and to train more AP teachers so that every child in New Mexico has the opportunity to get a jump-start on college."¦
I'm asking the Legislature to finally repeal the law that gives driver's licenses to illegal immigrants....
Andrew Cuomo, New York
While education and economic opportunity are the engine, there is more to New York. There is a social compact because we are a community based on progressive principles, and we must remain that progressive capital of the nation. It's about principles, it's about fairness, it's about equality, it's about decency. Teddy Roosevelt — "No man can be a good citizen unless he has a wage more than sufficient to cover the bare cost of living." "¦
We are one New York, and as one New York we will not tolerate discrimination. There is a challenge posed by the "stop and frisk" police policies. Roughly 50,000 arrests in New York City for marijuana possession, more than any other possession. Of those 50,000 arrests, 82 percent are black and Hispanic. Of the 82 percent that are black and Hispanic, 69 percent are under the age of 30 years old. These are young, predominately black and Hispanic males."¦
New York State is the equality capital of the nation, but we still have more to do. Because as you heard from the Rabbi, not everyone has reached full equality in our society.
John Kitzhaber, Oregon
And more than at any other time in Oregon history, this Legislative Assembly lives up to the ideal of being representative of all Oregonians. That's not a guarantee of perfection, and it certainly is not a guarantee of agreement, but it does ensure a debate more inclusive of the diverse voices and needs of communities across the state. Do not underestimate the significance of this body continuing to look more and more like the state and the people you represent."¦
It's also possible to move beyond what divides us and build instead on what unites us: a shared vision of a strong middle class, equal opportunity for every Oregonian in every community in the state, good schools and good jobs, and a government that is fiscally disciplined and efficient."¦
Our great challenge is to ensure that the next phase of Oregon's economic "recovery" reaches all Oregonians and ends the income stagnation that continues to erode the middle class, exacerbates inequality, and for the first time threatens a generation of Oregonians with the prospect of a declining standard of living."¦
The word "recovery" is warped if it is used at a time when the unemployment rate for white Oregonians is falling, but for African-Americans and Latino Oregonians it continues to rise....
Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania
Because every child in Pennsylvania deserves an equal start in life, and I intend to see that promise kept....
Lincoln Chafee, Rhode Island
Rhode Island has a long legacy of tolerance and diversity. For centuries, new Americans have made this state strong. To uphold this legacy, in the coming weeks I will announce efforts to bring greater diversity to our state workforce....
Rick Perry, Texas
We are a diverse tapestry of cultures....