Thank you, President Caret, for that warm welcome and for your lifetime of commitment to public higher education. And thanks to Lynn Griesemer and the UMass team for putting together today's summit, and to the Patriots organization for hosting us this morning.
I also want to acknowledge Congressman Joe Kennedy, the honorary chair of the Governor's STEM Advisory Council. Congressman Kennedy is a member of the House Committee on Science and Technology, a member of the Congressional STEM Caucus, and an engineer by training. He regrets that he could not be with us in person this morning, but we appreciate his active engagement, and we will have a chance to hear from him by video feed in just a few minutes.
Most importantly, thanks to all of you for being here. Your presence here today speaks loudly about how critical STEM education is to your schools and organizations, to our workforce and regional economies, and to the Commonwealth's future.
Sustaining and widening Massachusetts' leadership in STEM is in not only our collective economic self-interest, but alms our generational responsibility to provide the best possible opportunities to stimulate the minds and broaden the potential of our children and grandchildren.
Indeed, I want to take a little time at the podium today to place what you are doing in a larger context.
I have spoken often over the past several years about how we support public education and close the achievement gap, how we expand quality, affordable health care and control costs, how we stimulate innovative industries, how we rebuild our roads, rails and bridges. Over and over again, I have stressed the importance of investing in education, innovation and infrastructure, because doing so is a winning strategy for growth. That's all about "how."
As we look ahead, as leaders in both education and workforce development, and as Massachusetts citizens, let's remember why growth matters. For me, it's all about opportunity.
The opportunity to build a better life for ourselves and our families is what drives most of us in this room. We have a generational responsibility to position our state to succeed in the 21st century. Meeting that responsibility by expanding opportunity for people all over Massachusetts is why I wanted this job in the first place.
Well, opportunity requires growth. An expanding economy needs well-prepared and competitive talent. It needs inventors and innovators and investors. Opportunity without growth is a zero-sum gain, just a rearranging of the pieces on a checkers board. Opportunity through economic growth lifts us all.
That growth comes mainly from the private sector. Business creates jobs, not government. In my private sector experience, what business wants first from government is a light touch on regulation and taxes. So, we eliminated or simplified over 130 unnecessary regulations; reduced the permitting time for state approvals from two years to about 60 days; cut business taxes three times so far; slowed the growth in health care premiums; and much more. By any reasonable measure, Massachusetts is a more competitive place for business today than it was seven years ago.
Another, larger lesson I learned in the private sector is that growth requires investment. And to support business growth -- and the opportunity that depends on it -- government must invest alongside business.
So, for the past seven years, we have invested strategically in education, innovation and infrastructure. Here's why.
In Massachusetts, education is our calling card. With over 300 colleges, universities and research institutions within a 90-minute drive of where we are right now, education is our most significant resource -- as important to Massachusetts as oil is to Texas and corn is to Iowa. Meanwhile, the global economy is in the midst of a knowledge explosion -- so being educated is how our children and grandchildren will compete.
So, with the Legislature's help, we funded the public schools at the highest level in our history, even when the bottom was falling out of the budget. We worked to bring kids off the wait-list into quality early education programs and to make college more affordable. And we engaged our community colleges in the vital work of meeting our workforce needs, leveraging our training dollars.
We invest in innovation because there are a handful of high growth industries that depend on the concentration of brainpower we have. That's what the life sciences initiative is about, our $1 billion, 10-year commitment to strengthen our biotech sector. That's what our clean and alternative energy programs are about, from stewarding the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the nation's first successful cap and trade market, to enabling a 30-fold increase in wind generation and a 90-fold increase in solar. That's why we travel to other states and overseas to promote our financial services and digital gaming and robotics and cyber security and Big Data expertise, and why we built -- with five universities and two IT companies -- the fastest and greenest high performance computing center east of the Mississippi in downtown Holyoke.
And because we are making more of the things we invent, advanced or so-called "precision" manufacturing is making a strong comeback, too. During this administration, manufacturing has grown more than 50 percent faster in Massachusetts than in the nation as a whole, and seven times the rate it did during the previous administration.
And we invest in infrastructure -- the unglamorous work of government -- because it supports everything else. Roads, rails, and bridges, as well as broadband, public and affordable housing, lab and library facilities, even health care -- all things the public sector builds as a platform for private sector investment and personal ambition.
Education, innovation and infrastructure. That's our growth strategy. And it is working.
Massachusetts has climbed out of recession faster than most other states and is growing faster than the national growth rate. Early this year we re-gained all the jobs lost in the Great Recession, one of the first states in America to achieve that milestone, and we have continued to add jobs since. September was the best month in home sales in Massachusetts since 2005.
We are first in the nation in student achievement -- at or near the top in the world in math and science. We are also first in the nation in economic competitiveness, entrepreneurial activity, health care coverage, veterans' services and energy efficiency.
We have emerged as the top international supercluster in the life sciences and biotech, attracting more biotech venture capital per person than any other state.
We have trained almost 100,000 people statewide for jobs in the innovation economy.
And we have done it responsibly. Our budgets are balanced and on-time, our bond rating is the highest in our history, and we have one of the largest rainy day funds in America.
That's what our strategy has produced for the Commonwealth as a whole. And a focus on STEM has been central to that strategy.
In 2009, we established the STEM Advisory Council to improve coordination and collaboration among existing STEM programs and resources. Under former Lieutenant Governor Murray's leadership, the Council developed and implemented the state's first STEM Plan, a strategic approach to linking economic and workforce development to enhancement of STEM education.
Our Regional STEM Networks convene K-12 school districts, higher ed, businesses, not-for-profits and local government agencies to align core strategies of the statewide STEM plan to local education and economic needs, a model now recognized nationally as "best practice."
Our @Scale Initiative has been hailed as a breakthrough model for public-private funding to bring to scale transformative, system wide improvements in STEM education.
And we're seeing the results.
STEM interest among Massachusetts public school SAT-takers has increased, especially so among girls, so that the interest gap between boys and girls is closing.
There has been a 10 percent increase in students scoring proficient or higher in science, technology and engineering, and the achievement gap for Latino and African-American students shrank at all grade levels between 2009 and 2013.
The percentage of STEM bachelor's degrees earned by students at Massachusetts public and private colleges increased about 28 percent from 2007 to 2011.
Massachusetts has been recognized by the NGA's Center for Best Practices, Change the Equation and Innovate+Education as a top STEM state and we scored number one in the nationwide Race to the Top Competition.
A few weeks ago I announced $36 million to replace Cape Cod Community College's science building to modernize the campus's STEM resources and serve as an innovation center to meet our workforce needs. With this project, our Administration will have made STEM--specific investments at every single state and community college in Massachusetts.
And we're not done yet. I am convinced, that with a shared strategic focus, with true partnership among us all, and with increased integration between voc/tech schools and community colleges, we can create more growth and opportunity.
This collaboration is powerful. Massachusetts has a strong infrastructure of Regional STEM Networks and I thank those of you who participate in them.
Today, we add the Metro North Regional STEM Network. This region has an array of successful STEM programs and industries, and we expect the network to weave these efforts into a regional strategy. The Metro North Regional Employment Board deserves credit for leading this new network and I wish you the best as you start your work together.
For the community college leaders in the room, be aware of a $4.25 million grant program currently open for proposals. This program is designed to support our community colleges to inform, engage, recruit, retain and graduate significantly more students in STEM disciplines.
And finally, today I can announce we are updating the state's STEM Plan to launch the next vision of STEM education.
Building on what we have learned so far, the updated plan brings new focus to our five STEM goals: to increase student interest, increase student achievement, to increase the percentage of skilled STEM educators, to increase the percentage of students completing post-secondary degrees or certificates in STEM subjects, and to align our workforce with the STEM jobs of the future.
The updated plan will achieve these goals by:
Focusing on the reduction of the achievement, interest, and skills gaps.
Continuing efforts to create and maintain a skilled STEM educator workforce.
Exploring diverse and innovative instructional strategies to promote the teaching and learning of STEM.
And finally, staying engaged in discussions on how to strategically scale up programs across the Commonwealth.
The point is: this strategy is not rhetorical. It's real. This is how we use public investment -- of time, money and ideas -- to stimulate private sector growth. But there is still so much more to do, faster growth to support, more opportunity to create. As numerous and worthy as these projects are, they don't fully meet our needs.
To meet more of that need, I proposed new taxes for education and transportation last January. The Legislature provided more modest resources, limited primarily to transportation. So, this community will have to return to the subject in just a few years. I encourage you to do so with the underlying objective, our generational responsibility, firmly in mind.
After all, economic growth, across the whole of the Commonwealth, is our goal. Investing in education, innovation and infrastructure is how we stimulate growth.
As I wrap up, I want to return to why that matters, why economic growth and the opportunity it promises matters.
Opportunity is central to who we are as a nation.
America, unlike any other nation on earth, is organized around civic ideals. Not religion or race, not language or geography, like other countries, but transcendent statements of civic purpose. And we have defined those ideals, over time and through struggle, as freedom, equality and fair play. That's what America has been about for more people, for a longer time, than any other nation in human history.
Opportunity is what makes all our other civic ideals possible. But opportunity is not inevitable; it doesn't just happen. Each generation of Americans has had to strive and to sacrifice to make opportunity real. Whether it was freeing the slaves or giving women the vote in one era; the GI Bill, rural electrification or the interstate highway system in another; or expanding broadband and early education, and closing the achievement gap today, making opportunity real requires action.
Renewed action is critical today.
In a society dedicated to equality, income inequality is getting worse. As we emerge from the global recession, for those already college educated and with transferable skills, the knowledge-based job market is wide open. Those already with money to invest benefit from the resurgence of the Dow.
But the ability of people to bridge that gap is harder than ever. The poor are no longer just the abject destitute: nearly half of food stamp recipients in Massachusetts are working people. Just a few weeks ago, the homeless population living in motels hit an all-time high, many of them school age children. Many middle class families where both parents work still can't get ahead, let alone imagine a better life for their children. According to Opportunity Nation, for the first time in America, today's young adults risk having lower educational attainment rates, on average, than their parents. Only six percent of children born to parents at the bottom make it to the top. Children in many European countries now have greater socio-economic mobility than those in the United States.
The American Dream is in trouble. For this Commonwealth and this country to be true to her civic ideals, opportunity has to be accessible to all our residents, not just the favored few. And again, opportunity requires action. That means we must make public investments mindful of the lack of opportunity of the left out and left back. If the American Dream is to endure, we who benefit first from economic recovery need to care about those who benefit last, or not at all.
One of the traditions of Massachusetts governors is that you hang the portrait of a former governor over the fireplace in the governor's office, as a source of inspiration, I suppose, or perhaps just as a reminder that you are but one in a long line of others. I'll bet every one of my predecessors wondered at some point, as I do now, whether anything they accomplished would last. We have shown that investing in education, innovation and infrastructure, alongside reform and modernization of government itself, is a way not just to endure recession but also to shape a brighter future. More than anything, I hope what lasts is a broad understanding that growth is a choice and that opportunity for all is why that choice matters. For the sake of the next generation's opportunity, choose wisely.
Thanks again for the work you do. Now, by video feed, Congressman Joe Kennedy.