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Saturday, February 28, 2009
Governor Lingle: No more "business as usual"
By Gov. Linda Lingle @ 7:17 PM :: 6254 Views :: Hawaii County , Energy, Environment, National News, World News

Aloha!

In this difficult economic environment, Hawai‘i’s public and private sectors cannot successfully address the immediate and long-term challenges we face by working in a “business as usual” fashion.

In an effort to make Hawai‘i’s state government as efficient and effective as possible, I have asked each state department to develop new and innovative ways of delivering critical services and upholding their responsibility to the people of Hawai‘i. The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has responded with a comprehensive plan that reinvents how it cares for Hawai‘i’s land and ocean recreational spaces.

Big Island residents do not have to look far for a vivid reminder of Hawai‘i’s pristine beauty or of the central role the natural environment plays in our daily lives. The same locations we visit to take advantage of the recreational activities our islands have to offer are also the places that beckon tourists to Hawai‘i, including the Big Island’s Akaka Falls, Mauna Kea and Hapuna Beach.

Unfortunately, many of Hawai‘i’s state parks, small boat harbors and boat ramps, natural area reserves and beaches are suffering from rundown facilities due to decades of neglect and a lack of interpretive programs, as well as safety issues.

Instead of taking a “wait and see” approach to addressing the decaying state of these recreational spaces – hinging improvements on economic conditions or on how well DLNR can compete with the demands of other departments – DLNR has proposed the creation of an independent user fee structure to help fund $240 million in capital improvements to these areas over the next five years. These non-taxpayer sources of funding include commercial and industrial rents on state lands, limited fees for tourists, leases and concessions in parks and harbors.

The Recreational Renaissance, as DLNR is calling it, includes 60 Big Island projects worth more than $58 million. DLNR has organized meetings statewide in order to gain the public’s input on island-specific projects and proposals. I want to thank those of you who attended the public information meetings on Feb. 27 in Hilo and Waikoloa.

DLNR has introduced an inspiring vision for the protection of Hawai‘i’s recreational areas, as well practical steps for achieving this vision. However, it is important to stress that the specifics of individual proposals are subject to change, based on feedback from the public. Your testimony will not only help to ensure that this innovative legislation gets passed, but also help to determine how the Big Island’s Recreational Renaissance takes shape. For more information on the legislation and a list of improvements by county, visit www.hawaii.gov/dlnr/recreate.

At the same time we invest in the recreational places that make our islands a wonderful place to live and visit, my Administration also remains focused on investing in the innovation capacity of our young people.

On March 26-28, 2009, 34 high school teams from Hawai‘i, the mainland, Mexico and the Philippines will compete in the second annual FIRST in Hawai‘i Regional Robotics Competition at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Teams from Honoka‘a and Kohala high schools will represent the Big Island.

Increasing robotics education and other hands-on learning opportunities that inspire teamwork and problem-solving is key to achieving the goals of my Administration’s Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative. By ensuring that our workforce has the skills and knowledge to succeed in a competitive global market, we can build a sustainable economy based on innovation and less on land development.

There are several ways in which local residents and businesses can participate in robotics education, including as mentors, sponsors, or enthusiastic fans who give these students the recognition and support they deserve.

This legislative session, my Administration has submitted a STEM tax credit bill that provides additional incentives for individuals and businesses to support programs like FIRST and other robotics programs in our public schools. You can learn more about this bill and the other bills in my Administration’s legislative package, including the Recreational Renaissance legislation, at www.hawaii.gov/gov/initiatives. In addition, please feel free to send my office your ideas and concerns at governor.lingle@hawaii.gov.

Mahalo,

Governor Linda Lingle

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