honoluluadvertiser.com

Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 23, 2008

COMMENTARY
Looking toward a future of promise, potential

Gov. Linda Lingle's State of the State address
 •  Lingle's State of the State priorities

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Gov. Linda Lingle delivered her State of the State speech yesterday. She said Hawai'i's oil dependence has to change quickly.

GREGORY YAMAMOTO | The Honolulu Advertiser

spacer spacer

Here are excerpts from Gov. Linda Lingle's State of the State address yesterday:

My annual report to the people of Hawai'i on the state of our beloved state is one of my most cherished privileges as governor.

It gives me the opportunity to share some sense of where we have been...and then to focus on where I believe we should be headed...and how we will get there.

Recent reductions in the projected rate of growth of tax revenues present us with an opportunity to renew our sense of 'ohana and to take greater personal responsibility for Hawai'i's future.

Personal responsibility means more than just being responsible for decisions that affect us as individuals. Personal responsibility means that we get involved to help others in need and to create a better Hawai'i.

Personal responsibility for the average citizen could mean getting involved enough to report abuse or neglect of a child in your neighborhood. And it means government agencies admitting mistakes and working to fix the system.

It means parents teaching their children right from wrong, and showing aloha for our precious land and sea by not abandoning cars along the roads or boats on our reefs.

Personal responsibility means driving with aloha, watching out for pedestrians and not letting friends drive drunk.

Less than two weeks ago, the Council on Revenues adjusted downward by $59 million the amount of general fund tax revenue available through fiscal year 2009. This is in addition to their earlier reductions in May and August of last year.

So although the economy remains fairly strong, the bottom line is that since May of last year when the Legislature adopted the biennium budget, tax revenue estimates have declined by $353 million.

INNOVATION

During the past 12 months, I have shared with you a clear vision for the fundamental transformation of our economy away from an economy based too narrowly on land development...to one based on the infinite talent and intellectual capacity of Hawai'i pono'i...Hawai'i's own people.

I am convinced that Hawai'i's recent strong economy has allowed us to postpone making difficult but important decisions, and has perpetuated education and workforce structures that do not fit well in the 21st century.

The progress we have made in the past 12 months is exciting and encouraging: We have launched a statewide program to increase the global education of Hawai'i's teachers, students and residents. We have begun to establish academies in middle and high schools that focus on science, technology, engineering and math.

We stress STEM education because it helps equip our graduates with the analytical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork skills necessary for any high-quality job of the 21st century.

While I am somewhat satisfied with our progress, I know there is still so much more we need to do in order to secure a brighter tomorrow for future generations.

We are proposing to start Creative Academies, modeled after the successful STEM Academies, to nurture and support the many talents of Hawai'i's keiki.

These academies would focus on animation, digital media, game development and writing and publishing in elementary through high school.

And we are asking the Legislature to pass tax deductions of up to $20,000 a year for parents or other family members saving for a child's college education.

We propose the creation of a Commission on Higher Education made up of the presidents of Hawai'i's major universities, members of the community and business leaders. This commission will give us the opportunity to embrace new ideas and new ways of using federal and state education dollars.

And again this year we propose that the state retirement fund allocate $100 million to invest in the creative ideas and talents of Hawai'i's companies and people.

ENERGY

Another goal I will pursue with great intensity during the next three years is energy independence and security.

This is as important as anything else we do for the next three years.

Today, Hawai'i is the most oil-dependent state in America...and this has to change!

It means moving away from our current over-dependence on oil in favor of renewable energy...and that we do it more rapidly than some would like and others believe possible.

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.

We will continue to lead by example, both in the kinds of buildings we construct and by encouraging intra-governmental purchases of power so that federal, state and county governments can use our own assets to start producing some of our own energy, and, where appropriate, allow governments to purchase power directly from new, non-utility suppliers.

Less than two weeks ago, our Airports Division announced an historic plan to develop large solar power arrays at 12 government sites across the state.

This project has the potential to reduce Hawai'i's need to import 130,000 barrels of oil per year, and to generate enough power to supply about 9,000 homes per year.

I am pleased today to let you know that next week, the State of Hawai'i and the U.S. Department of Energy will enter into an unprecedented and innovative partnership called the Hawai'i Clean Energy Initiative.

This partnership is based on the vision that Hawai'i must accelerate its transformation to a clean energy future by tapping into the latest national and global advancements, and that our abundant natural sources of energy position us to be a model for the world to show what can be accomplished by developing indigenous renewable energy.

PRESERVATION

I am proposing that we buy the 850-acre Turtle Bay property 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. The purchase of this important property will create an opportunity for the community to shape a vision for this part of the North Shore.

The refurbished Turtle Bay Hotel and condominiums currently provide needed jobs in the community. Its restaurants provide a welcome place for local families and visitors to enjoy a Sunday brunch or special family meal, and the golf courses host internationally recognized tournaments. We appreciate these contributions to our state, and want them to continue to be successful.

But how the balance of these lands can work in harmony with what exists is something that we should decide together with the community.

I propose that the Legislature, my administration, and community leaders form a working group to explore options and develop an action plan to make sure that this property stays in public hands.

I have thought hard about what I am proposing, and I believe in my heart that this is the right thing to do for those of us living today, and for those who will be born in the decades ahead.

And I believe this will be a defining moment for all of us a moment that communicates to young people that we care more about their future than about our present.

So, rather than viewing this proposal as something that will be very difficult or even impossible to achieve, I ask that you view it as the right thing for us to do, and that if we work together we will find a way to make it happen.

I have thought about 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."

I know that there are many other ideas, but the point is that I believe this is both doable and essential to protect our way of life.

The North Shore is an important escape valve for O'ahu's increasingly urbanized lifestyle.

It would be naive for anyone to think this land acquisition will be easy. The land ownership structure is complex and the debt owed is sizeable. Nevertheless, I am committed to these lands remaining in public hands.

The residents on the North Shore call it "keeping the country, country." I call it fulfilling commitments to future generations...and I ask everyone listening today to join me in this effort.