Governors’ worsts: The other side of the coin

About a month ago, we put up our “which states are the best” video, which features the many superlatives that governors use when talking about their states. We followed that up with a text blog post of “Governor Superlatives”  that included more governors bragging about how their states were the best.


It’s a lot less common to see governors bring up the areas in which their states are at — or close to — the bottom of 50-state rankings.  It’s braver, too. We have to give credit to governors who use annual speeches in bully pulpit fashion to raise public concern and to try to push for fixes. 


So, today, here’s a short list of quotes from governors speeches about ways in which their states are the worst (or among the worst). We’ve linked to the addresses themselves, so you can see that they also had good things to say. The following come from state of the state or annual budget addresses and in one case, an inaugural address.


Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, January 25, 2017


“For years Illinois has provided the lowest percentage of education financial support from any state in the country. And we have the largest gap between funding for high income schools and low income schools in the country, both across the state and within the city of Chicago.” . . .


“We haven’t had a full year budget of some kind in a year-and-a-half– and we haven’t had a state budget that is truly balanced in decades. We have more than $11 billion in unpaid bills, a $130 billion unfunded pension liability, and the worst credit rating in the nation. We have the 5th highest overall tax burden and one of the lowest rates of job creation of any state.”


Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, January 24, 2017


“And while I’m so pleased that Montana leads the nation in many economic indicators, I cannot tolerate that Montana leads the nation in youth suicide. I am haunted by this statistic, and I imagine you are as well. I am proposing $1 million to fund evidence-based pilot programs. We will take what we learn from these efforts to bring it to scale, to better keep our kids safe.


New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, Feb. 9, 2017


“We all know that our energy rates are among the highest in the nation. It’s an economic development issue and an affordability issue for our citizens.


“We need to work on energy rates for everyone, but the people struggling the most are on fixed incomes, often low-income rate payers, and are struggling to afford their energy bill.


“I propose to dedicate 20% of the renewable energy fund to supplement our current electricity relief programs for low-income families.


“Fixing energy is a long-term problem, but some people can’t wait. And we simply have to provide them resources today.”


Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, February 6, 2017


“It’s no secret our prison population is in a crisis with over 61,000 people under the jurisdiction of corrections. Our prisons are way over capacity, and our prison population is expected to grow by 25 percent in the next 10 years.


“Oklahoma’s overall incarceration rate is the second-highest in the country. We lead the nation in female incarceration – incarcerating women at two and a half times the national average.


Oregon Gov. Kate Brown inaugural address, January 9, 2017


“Our schools continue to be among the nation’s leaders in all the wrong categories–the largest class size, the shortest school year, and the highest dropout rate.”


Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, January 30, 2017


“While we take great pride in paying the lowest amount of tax as a percentage of income in the country as individuals, unfortunately that’s not true for our business taxes. We are the third highest in the country in business taxes as a percentage of income and as a percentage of our budget.”


Texas Governor Greg Abbott, January 31, 2017


“Texas schools are filled with some of the best teachers in America who are called to their profession. Unfortunately, a small number of teachers have given Texas an unwanted ranking. Texas reportedly leads the nation in teacher-student sexual assaults. Some of those teachers are not prosecuted. And worse, some are shuffled off to other schools.We are the ones with the duty to do something about it.”

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