Thursday, December 08, 2005

Warner's Last Virginia Budget

As a business consultant managing international projects, I love it that Warner gets the new knowledge economy and the importance of education and nationalized R&D. Right now I am sitting in Costa Rica working on a project, and find my colleagues to be highly educated, enthusiastic and will work for a heck of a lot less than the American worker. Costa Rica's government is putting a lot of resources into making sure their people are well equipped to compete globally. And it is working... And they are not alone. India and China are investing heavily in their people.

We are essentially living on the gains of America's post-WWII industrial dominance and massive government investment in infrastructure and military. Remember the Sputnik kids, Manhattan project, even the Internet... Ah, but today's Darwinist America, our citizens can rest "easy" knowing they are left to fend for themselves, but at least the "big bad" government isn't mucking up the market. Hey after all, if the government fails to educate its people to be able to compete in a global market, we'll just recruit educated classes of immigrants to come over and fill the void. Heck it is cheaper since the government doesn't have to make an investment that way, right?

Until Thomas L. Friedman's latest book I was never a fan, but his recent work The World Is Flat is truly enlightened work. The last time I heard Warner speak he quoted Friedman liberally. Granted it would be hard for anyone who is an international businessman to not come to the same conclusion as Friedman on his own accord. If you haven't read it, pick it up for your holiday vacation reading. NY Times article here if you want to read more. From his book:

When I compare our high schools to what I see when I'm traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow. In math and science, our fourth graders are among the top students in the world. By eighth grade, they're in the middle of the pack. By 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring near the bottom of all industrialized nations... The percentage of a population with a college degree is important, but so are sheer numbers. In 2001, India graduated almost a million more students from college than the United States did. China graduates twice as many students with bachelor's degrees as the U.S., and they have six times as many graduates majoring in engineering. In the international competition to have the biggest and best supply of knowledge workers, America is falling behind.

Okay enough of my tangent... Here are two articles on Warner's new Virginia budget.

Washington Business Journal covers Gov. Warner announced $255m for higher-education facilities that focus on medical research.

According to a statement released by Warner's office, state universities are committing up to $299 million to match the governor's proposed allocation. This amounts to an investment of more than $500 million to research and treat diseases, develop new technologies and build state-of-the-art facilities that will help attract experts to Virginia.

"This is a historic investment in Virginia's future," Warner says. "Our state dollars will leverage federal and private funds to help attract the best and the brightest scientists and students to our universities.

This funding will further our advances in biomedical research and help lead to potential breakthroughs in treating cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other serious diseases." Read More.

The Washington Post has in an article titled "Warner Seeks $255 Million for Science." I guess in the era of the Bush administration this must actually be big news in Washington. lol

The governor said the new spending is crucial because Virginia lags behind nearby states in research and development spending at its colleges and universities. Both the University of North Carolina and the University of Maryland separately do more research than several Virginia institutions combined, Warner said, and the commonwealth must be able to match its neighbors.

"This is putting a very significant marker down in terms of the long-term economic future of Virginia," Warner (D) said before several hundred college administrators, students and state lawmakers at the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park in Richmond. "What better place to make an investment than in research and development based around our colleges and universities across the commonwealth? There we find tomorrow's products and tomorrow's cures."

The initiative includes money for a new bioscience facility at George Mason University as well as funding for cancer biology research there. It also calls for creating or enhancing several programs at the University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Virginia Commonwealth University.

And from the Hampton Roads Daily Press and announcement on mental health services.

RICHMOND -- Gov. Mark R. Warner today proposed rebuilding two state mental hospitals, including Eastern State in Williamsburg, as part of a historic $460 million investment aimed at shoring up the safety net for Virginia's most vulnerable citizens.

At a packed press conference, Warner said the time had come to transform the state's outdated, inefficient hospitals that have served for generations, and construct state-of-the-art care centers.

At the same time, the state should begin caring for more people in the community, closer to their homes. The plan calls for $290 million to rebuild Eastern State, Western State Hospital in Staunton, and three training centers. It also involves spending almost $170 million on community-based services, such as group homes. Read more.


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