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Lingle joins global conference on economic challenges, opportunities

MEDIA RELEASE

Governor Linda Lingle is participating in top-level discussions with leading decision makers from around the world on meeting the challenges and opportunities as the global economy begins to recover.

As one of five governors among more than 500 invited speakers at the 2010 Milken Institute Global Conference, Lingle is sharing ideas and solutions being implemented in Hawaii, while gaining valuable insights on innovative programs and partnerships being undertaken in municipalities, states and nations around the world that can be adapted to help create a stronger future for Hawaii.

“It is critically important for Hawaii’s future that we maintain an active role at the global and national levels in addressing issues that have direct and indirect impact on our state, such as job creation, tourism, energy security, education and caring for our retiring baby boomers,” Lingle said. “Each year the Milken Institute Global Conference brings together national and international leaders to exchange ideas and collaborate on innovative solutions to address our immediate challenges, and, more importantly, how to ensure we are prepared for the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Gov. Linda Lingle joined Gov. Jim Doyle (Wisconsin) and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (California) for an important panel discussion. (Photo courtesy of the Governor's Office)

Tuesday, Lingle attended a panel on the hospitality industry to hear from industry CEOs on their strategies for weathering the economic downturn while positioning their brands and destinations for the long-term. The panel included the CEOs of several visitor industry firms with operations in Hawaii, including Diamond Resorts International, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Starwood Capital Group.

The governor also attended a panel titled “Geopolitics, Global Demand and the Quest for Energy Security,” which examined how national efforts to reduce dependence on imported oil from volatile regions of the world can minimize geopolitical risks such as price spikes, disruptions in supply, economic instability and military conflicts.

Hawaii is already playing a prominent role in the nation’s clean energy strategy through the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative, a first of its kind partnership between the U.S. Department of Energy and the State.

She also joined a session titled “The Generation Trap: Who Will Pay for the Baby Boomer’s Retirement?” to hear from pension fund managers, union leaders, presidents and CEOs of investment and asset management firms and state budget directors on how they are meeting the challenges of bringing public and private retirement plan obligations in line with shrinking revenues.

The issue is of particular significance to the State of Hawaii as the Hawaii Employer-Union Health Benefit Trust Fund (EUTF), which manages medical benefits for current and retired state and county employees, faces insolvency as more retirees enter the system and the costs to sustain the plan continue to rise.

The retirement system was also a point of discussion Monday when Lingle joined Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on a panel discussion, “State of the States: U.S. Governors on Navigating the New Budget Realities.” Moderated by Michael Milken, chairman of the Milken Institute, the governors discussed reforming the U.S. public workers retirement systems and the consequences to the nation’s economy if pension fund and health benefit liabilities and expenses are not reigned in.

During Monday’s panel discussion, Lingle, Doyle and Schwarzenegger also held a frank conversation on the difficult decisions that are being made to address declining revenues and the stalled economy, as well as issues facing every state going forward in such areas as job creation and improving productivity and accountability in education.

The Milken Institute Global Conference concludes Wednesday. Lingle is scheduled to return Friday to Hawaii.

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