The 2007 legislative session provides an opportunity to address challenges facing Hawai`i and capitalize on numerous opportunities for progress, while always preserving what is special about our island home.
Among my requests to the House and Senate are nearly $18 million in capital improvement projects for Moloka`i during the 2008 fiscal year and about $9.9 million for 2009. These projects include improvements at Moloka`i Airport ($6.9 million), and Kalaupapa Settlement Harbor ($4.6 million) and nursing facility ($510,000).
Other proposed projects include a classroom building at Kaunakakai Elementary School ($10.7 million), and replacement of the Kawela Stream bridge and other improvements on Kamehameha V Highway ($4 million).
I believe this will become the “Hawai`i Century” as our state realizes its destiny as a bridge between East and West. With that in mind, one of my key initiatives is strengthening relationships with our Asia-Pacific neighbors at a time when they are becoming increasingly prominent in the global economy. To catch this wave of prosperity, we must continue operating state government in a fiscally responsible manner. We must also restructure the economy by moving away from land development as a source of wealth to a focus on human development and innovation – the process of creating new ideas and turning them into products or services that can compete in a global market. Through innovation we will promote economic diversification, increase our standard of living, attract high-paying jobs and use fewer natural resources. To bring this about, my Administration has developed a policy framework with five interrelated components:
- Innovation in K-12 and higher education by putting a greater focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM skills); offering professional development opportunities for teachers; and providing tax deductions to help offset the cost of college tuition.
- Innovation in the economy by investing in life sciences and biotechnology research, and by further developing Hawai`i’s creative industry, including film, digital media and the music business.
- Innovation in workforce development by creating lifelong learning and skill-building opportunities for workers, increasing the state’s ability to respond to new skill-set needs in the marketplace, and enhancing “brain gain” by encouraging kama`aina to return home for job opportunities.
- Innovation in linking Hawai`i to the global economy by creating an infrastructure that builds on our competitive advantages and enables the state to play a leading role in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Innovation in state government by upgrading administrative functions through a digital paperless network, putting all permitting online by 2010, hiring a chief information technology officer, and offering free Internet service in public areas of state buildings, libraries and schools.
Throughout the legislative session you will hear more about this innovation initiative. For this initiative to become reality, however, it’s important for Moloka`i residents to be involved by contacting your state legislators. Your support is most appreciated.