June 3, 2009 — Meeting in Frederiksted Wednesday, the Committee on Education, Youth and Culture held in committee a bill authorizing the governor to establish an agreement with Lincoln Technical Institute to build a technical school in the Virgin Islands.
The bill, proposed by Sen. Alvin Williams, aims to increase vocational education options in the Virgin Islands by giving a cash subsidy and tax exemptions to Lincoln Technical Institute to persuade it to establish a school in the Virgin Islands. The subsidy, whose amount is undetermined, would support lower tuitions for Virgin Islands residents.
Ilene Garner, director of the University of the Virgin Islands Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning center, read testimony from UVI President Laverne Ragster and testified herself that a new school would be welcome but UVI was concerned about classes that overlapped and duplicated its own efforts.
"The question is, how do we manage duplication?" Garner said. "Certainly there is no automotive degree no welding program. In those areas I believe there are opportunities to utilize new programs and expand opportunities for students."
Sen. Neville James was concerned about the Legislature negotiating with a particular company in advance of authorizing the governor to enter into an agreement.
"Normally, when we consider legislation of this nature, it is the other way around," James said. "It is the governor that cuts the deal and we approve it. The language here is the other way around and says the governor may institute an agreement I think the Legislature should not be getting into the business of mandating what the governor 'may' do. I would hope any legislation of this nature would be without an institution attached to it, so as to allow the governor to go out and enter into a bidding process."
Sen. Craig Barshinger moved to hold the bill in committed. Voting yea were Barshinger, Sens. Wayne James, Neville James, Terrence "Positive" Nelson, Louis Patrick Hill, and Nereida "Nellie" O'Reilly. Sen. Michael Thurland was absent.
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