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Friday, March 24, 2000

Hawaii State Seal

Senator nixes
Cayetano’s high-
tech plan

A Big Isle senator opposes
combining two agencies

By Richard Borreca


Calling it "poorly thought out" and likely to cause more problems than it solves, a key state senator is moving today to kill a major part of Gov. Ben Cayetano's high-technology coordination plan.

Big Island Sen. Lorraine Inouye, chairwoman of the economic development committee, says she will ask her committee not to approve Cayetano's plan to combine the financially successful Hawaii Strategic Development Corp. and the Natural Energy Lab into a High Technology Development Corp to be headed by Cayetano's assistant, Joe Blanco.

"I have a problem with the plan; there is really no plan; the agency boards didn't know about it -- the administration has to learn to communicate," Inouye said. "I have grave reservations about the consolidation at this time."

Her committee already rejected one version of the administration plan. Today Inouye says she is recommending that her committee also delete the consolidation move in a similar state house bill.

The Hawaii Strategic Development Corp., a semi-autonomous state agency, gives venture capital to high-tech startups in Hawaii.

Inouye opposes moving an agency that is successful into a new agency with no track record.

"If they are doing all right now, why would he change -- HSDC appears to be working," she said.

She plans to approve other parts of the bill that would include tax and investment incentives to lure high-tech businesses.

Blanco was not available for comment.

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