HI governor makes high-tech push

She asks for tax breaks for high-tech learning, retirement fund investments but state employees doubt Hawaii high-tech is a great investment.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor

Hawaii's Republican Gov. Linda Lingle wants the state's economy to high-tech businesses, such as digital media. To accompish that she is sending the state legislature bills to support education and high-tech training programs, the Star-Bulletin reports.

After testifying before state House and Senate committees, Lingle won passage of the House version of her bill, which gives tax credits for learning programs and state aid for rapid-response learning programs, and creates programs to lure Hawaii residents back to the state.

"Hawaii's ability to support more knowledge- and innovation-intensive economy and to raise our standard of living requires an immediate and ongoing upgrade of our skill sets for our workers," Lingle told the House Labor Committee.

Lingle said "lifelong learning accounts," similar to employer-matched 401(k) savings accounts, would pay for classes to upgrade an employee's skills

Lingle says increased employment would make up for the $1.7 million cost of providing tax breaks to employers and workers.

Ted Liu, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, called the job preparation bill "the most significant thing our state could do to achieve the state's desire for economic growth."

In the Senate, the governor pressed for a bill that would require the state's $10 billion Employees Retirement System to invest up to $100 million in local venture capital to support Hawaii's high-tech businesses.

The retirement system was noncommital on the bill but the the Hawaii Government Employees Association opposed the move.

"The growth of high technology in Hawaii is a worthy objective. However, we do not think it is appropriate or prudent to use pension funds for this purpose," a legislative officer, said.
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