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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 1:59 p.m., Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lingle wants state to buy Turtle Bay

By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer


Gov. Linda Lingle delivered her sixth State of the State address this morning at the State Capitol.

GREGORY YAMAMOTO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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In her sixth state of the state address this morning, Gov. Linda Lingle proposed that the state purchase the 850-acre Turtle Bay hotel and condominium resort on O'ahu's North Shore.

"I believe this is a once-in-a-generation chance to preserve both a lifestyle for thousands of residents and a part of Hawai'i that millions the world over have come to love and identify as the real Hawai'i," Lingle said. "The purchase of this important property will create an opportunity for the community to shape a vision for this part of the North Shore."

Lingle said that she has considered at least a dozen ways "we could mix and match" revenue streams to finance such a purchase. These include selling off the resort portion of the property to pay down the debt, exchanging other state lands, creatively using tax credits spread out over time, a tax check-off on our income tax returns, private grants, allocating Legacy Land Funds, federal conservation dollars and a worldwide Internet fundraising campaign to "Save Hawai'i's North Shore."

"It would be naive for anyone to think this land acquisition will be easy," Lingle said.

In response to repeated questions about her future political ambitions, Lingle began her speech by saying she has "no other ambition" other than "cementing a clear direction for our state; a direction that encourages personal responsibility, transforms the economy, focuses on energy independence, preserves our cultural and natural resources and enhances our overall quality of life."

"Today is the first day of the rest of my administration," Lingle said.

Lingle cited the Council on Revenues' $59 million downward adjustment less than two weeks ago in the amount of general fund tax revenue that will be available through fiscal year 2009. The adjustments came on top of earlier reductions in May and August.

"So although the economy remains fairly strong, the bottom line is that since May of last year when the Legislature adopted the biennium budgets, tax revenue estimates have declined by $353 million," Lingle said. "... This means using our finite financial resources to maintain and expand existing infrastructure. I commend legislators on your support for repair and maintenance of our schools, improvements to the highway system in rapidly growing parts of the state, as well as the modernization plans for our airports and harbors. We have some tough choices to make together in the weeks and months ahead, and I look forward to collaborating with you on reach the best decisions."

She said Hawai'i remains the most oil-dependent state in America "and this has to change."

"To further speed our progress toward energy security and a clean energy future, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism is being reorganized to re-establish an Energy Division," Lingle said. "Every week my departments are visited by developers of renewable energy projects — from wind to solar, from wave and ocean thermal to biofuel, from algae to even energy from space. We need to take action now to make it easier for these kinds of projects to start up and to succeed in Hawai'i."

Lingle referred to several educational initiatives in the last year, including launching a statewide program to increase the global education of teachers, students and residents; beginning to establish academies in middle and high schools that focus on science, technology, engineering and math; initiating the MELE program at Honolulu Community College to "further build the artistic and commercial success of the Hawaiian music industry; and a partnership with NASA, which will sponsor the first Robotics Challenge at the Stan Sheriff Center in March, which will feature 25 Hawai'i public and private schools and 13 Mainland schools in the "Super Bowl of Smarts."

Lingle said she is "somewhat satisfied with our progress."

She proposed: starting Creative Academies, modeled after the successful STEM Academies, that would focus on animation, digital media, game development and writing and publishing in elementary through high school; approval from the Legislature for tax deductions of up to $20,000 per year for parents or other family members to save for a child's college education; creating a Commission on Higher Education made up of the presidents of Hawai'i's major universities and community and business leaders; and repeated her proposals for the state retirement fund to allocate $100 million to invest in "the creative ideas and talents of Hawai'i's companies and people."

For the first time, Lingle's speech will be translated into six languages — Chinese, Japanese, Ilokano, Tagalog, Hawaiian and Korean — and transcripts will be posted on the governor's Web site by Friday. The Web site is www.hawaii.gov/gov.

See photos from Lingle's State of the State address in this PHOTO GALLERY.

Reach Dan Nakaso at dnakaso@honoluluadvertiser.com.