Lingle's economic plan merits lawmakers' OK
Legislators are supporting the governor's proposal to restructure the state's economy.
DEMOCRATIC state legislators were somewhat skeptical
of Gov. Linda Lingle's proposed restructuring of the state's economy in her State of the State address two months ago, but they are giving it the support it deserves. Major components have survived House and Senate crossover deadlines and should be enacted to affirm bipartisan cooperation.
In her January address to legislators, Lingle called for restructuring the state's economy away from dependence on the real-estate market to one that emphasizes science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, a national movement supported by the National Science Teachers Association and a bipartisan congressional caucus.
At this point in the Legislature, most of the two dozen specifics of her innovation initiative have received approval in at least one of the chambers.
When the Republican governor first revealed her initiative, some Democratic legislators recognized many of her ideas as having been introduced by previous administrations. "If you look at it, it's things that we've all talked about over the years," said Sen. Kalani English, chairman of the Senate International Affairs Committee.
One important bill proposed by Lingle and passed by the Senate would require the state Employees' Retirement System to consider investing in venture capital opportunities in the state. Lingle called for $100 million to be set aside for the investments, but the specific amount has been deleted from the bill.
The House has approved a key Lingle proposal to establish programs to develop STEM skills in students in public schools and the University of Hawaii. A scholarship program was deleted from the bill but should be revived in the Senate.
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