After renewing his oath of office Thursday, Governor Peter Shumlin addressed state and federal lawmakers assembled before him.
"The state of the state is healthy, resilient and strong," said Shumlin, D-Vermont.
Shumlin used his annual address to focus on a singular issue: turning education into a skilled-labor producing machine.
"Our employers from border to border are eager to find workers with the right educational skills," he said.
Shumlin says business throughout the state would be expanding and offering good wages if they could find manpower. He says the state must be prepared to harness growth opportunities presented by technology.
"The plain truth is we are not," he said.
To adapt, the governor proposes turning a good but expensive education system into a great one. He says that means change from pre-k through college.
"Words are nice, actions are better," Shumlin said.
The earlier the investment, the bigger the return argues Shumlin. He wants to put $17 million into low-income early child hood care, and pledged assistance to communities willing to start public programs.
Along with doubling financing for high school students to take college courses, Shumlin proposes reimbursing portions of student debt for those in tech fields who promise to stay in-state.
"We want you in Vermont, we need you in Vermont, and we are ready to be bold in keeping you in Vermont," he said.
The governor suggests personal learning plans for every student crafted on the first day of kindergarten and advancing grade levels with them. He also proposes shifting tech school focuses to skills needed within the immediate areas.
"For example, the Kingdom may choose to focus heavily on engineering, hospitality, and health care courses that would result in Kingdom jobs for Kingdom kids," Shumlin said. "Let's offer - from birth to cap and gown, and beyond - the knowledge, creativity, civic lessons, and career opportunities every Vermont child deserves."
How Vermont can afford all the new efforts won't be clear until the governor presents his budget address Jan. 24.
Watch the video for reaction to the governor's speech.
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