Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
May 22, 2000
Bill, thanks for those thoughtful words. It's good to see you again. And I especially want to thank the Technology Alliance for inviting me here today, for the impact you have had on our economy, and for the quality of life many of our citizens now enjoy because of your innovation and hard work.
Thanks to you, Washington's economy is booming. Personal income growth is the highest it's ever been. We lead the nation in median family income growth. We lead the nation in average pay in the high tech industry. And we have fastest employment growth rate in the nation in high tech industries.
And because of this fast and furious industry growth, we've had to step up the pace to make sure we have some fast and furious educational opportunity growth. So we've dramatically increased our capacity to educate students in computer sciences at technology centers, community colleges, technical colleges, and our four-year universities.
We're aggressively opening high-tech centers across the state. In the last two years we invested $8 million dollars of state money at the UW for the next generation Internet. And we invested $12 million in state funds into new information technology programs at community colleges and universities allowing us to graduate thousands more students in high-tech fields.
And I'm happy to report that just last week, we got 1.5 million dollars from the federal government so we can train even more of our high-caliber Washington workers for the high-caliber Washington jobs that are flooding the market.
And to make sure that the high tech industry can continue to expand so that all of our communities can become part of this exciting new economy, we're taking aggressive steps to get our state wired from the Puget Sound to the Palouse with high-speed, high-capacity telecommunications. We've wired all of our school districts from Kindergarten through Twenty so our kids grow up technology-savvy. We're offering distance learning courses on-line so a stay-at-home mom in Union Gap can get a two-year degree without leaving home.
We've created "Access Washington," which is gaining national attention so citizens and businesses can access government information and services electronically -- tax filings, master business licenses, fishing licenses, you name it. Because we can't have a government that doesn't keep up with its state's top industry!
I'm proud of our high-tech industry. We kind of grew up together. When I first took office in the 80's, high tech meant pocket protectors. Now everyone's sending "I LOVE YOU" messages around the world. Now it means incredible financial success.
Together we've been able to: create a business climate that rewards innovation, modify the unemployment insurance system-preventing a 200 million-dollar employer-tax increase in 2000, roll B&O taxes back to pre-1993 levels, invest money in research and development firms and high-tech ventures. And, we've concentrated on protecting a quality of life that attracts smart people to Washington to live, work, and raise a family. And we've done all of this because if you thrive, as an industry, we strive as a state.
And we'll continue to do everything we can to ensure that your success continues in a sustainable way. Because if our prosperity is to last for the long-term - if this is more than just a bubble - we have to work strategically and diligently to build and maintain the foundations of a knowledge-based, technology-based economy. This requires business, government, educators and researchers working together.
The key is partnerships. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times said it best: "We have moved from a world in which everyone wants to go it alone - where the rugged individualist is the executive role model and the vertically integrated company does it all is the corporate model - to a world where the alliance maker is the executive role model and the horizontally allied company is the corporate role model." It's about alliances.
That's why the Technology Alliance is so important. You are the catalyst for so many of the partnerships and collaborations among business, government and education that we need for Washington to prosper into the twenty-first century.
We need partnerships like the Smart Tools Academy - where the Technology Alliance and UW work together to train superintendents and principals in the use of technology and the ways to effectively integrate technology into schools. What you have done so far is impressive - more than 800 school leaders have already participated.
We need partnerships like the Alliance of Angels, working to assist entrepreneurs as they turn their dreams into start-up businesses that will drive our economy in the twenty-first century.
We need collaboration like the kind that allowed my office to benefit from the Technology Alliance's report on the need for advanced telecommunications. That report helped initiate and pass the first comprehensive telecom legislation since the 1980s - legislation that will spur telecommunications investment we need so badly in urban and rural areas by encouraging new market entrants, reducing regulations, and ensuring that competitive markets work more efficiently.
So I'm really just here to thank you, each of you, for being a member of this Alliance, and for building further alliances, with schools, communities and government.
And to announce Fred Morris. I know a lot of you have been wondering when on earth we'd find our new science and technology policy advisor. Well, we found him. Fred, can you stand up so people can see you? Please get to know him. Bring your concerns to him. He'll solve them. Right, Fred?
Again, thank you for everything you do to make Washington everything it is - a great place to live, work and raise a family.
Thank you very much.