Bill Richardson on Technology
Democratic Governor (NM); Secretary of Commerce-Designee
We made a great step forward when we initiated the state supercomputing center. Now companies and universities are using the supercomputer to create alternative fuels, develop solar energy projects, and attract millions of dollars in venture capital.
A: Well, first of all, I don’t believe in UFOs. Secondly, I don’t think there were any potential sightings. But the problem here is that the federal government, instead of releasing all the information when they had it, never did it. So it causes enormous suspicion. Now, look. Roswell has a UFO museum. They have a tradition there. You know, admittedly, sometimes I pump it up for tourism reasons because that’s my job as the governor. I have to promote jobs and tourism.
Actually, that is a picture of the world in 2007. Luckily we ramped up investment in research & technology and kept our leadership position, which seemed threatened by the politics of energy & climate change during the dark days of the early 2000s.
The New Mexico Railrunner, which runs on conventional tracks that we bought from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, has been a success. It is subsidized, as all forms of public transportation must be, but it is attracting transit-oriented development nearby as well as a large number of passengers who welcome the opportunity to commute by rail instead of by individual car. My investment in “park-n-ride” busses between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, while we work on an efficient rail connection, has been standing-room only. People who have said westerners won’t use public transportation are nuts.
A: No, privatization is not the answer. Here’s one way that I believe we can finance our infrastructure. I would start out by the Congress eliminating the $23 billion they put forth for congressional earmarks. I would also ensure that corporate welfare--$73 billion worth--is eliminated as a way to reduce the debt. But we have to invest in our power grid. We have to invest in our bridges, in our highways. I was able to do that as governor of New Mexico--$1.5 billion worth of highway construction to repair our bridges, to repair our highways, to bring commuter rail--we have to start thinking about new infrastructure in America. We have to start thinking about making sure we have strong land use policies, smart growth. The government should be a partner with the states and localities in building commuter rail, light rail, new forms of transportation besides repairing our highways and our bridges.
RICHARDSON: Outsourcing is a problem. Most outsourcing jobs are technical. We need to upgrade our science and math standards in our school. It’s education. And I would create 250 science and math academies to deal with that gap. I would have an industrial policy where we invest in high-growth industries, in health industries, in high-tech, in renewable energy, to keep those jobs here.
That is why I pushed for and got through the legislature in 2005 a research-and-development tax credit. It is a three-year tax holiday for new technology companies. They are laying capital on the line, and we want to invest in their success. If they qualify, they can also take advantage of the tax credit we instituted for companies that provide high-wage jobs.
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