President Obama is announcing a competition to create a national network of “innovation institutes.” These would be public-private partnerships to train workers and create high-tech jobs. The president wants Congress to spend a billion dollars to get the program going.
Texas has a similar program with the Emerging Technologies Fund. Jon Taylor chairs the Political Science Department at University of St. Thomas. He says the president’s trip to Austin comes at an interesting time.
“Just yesterday, the legislature, or at least the House, gave at least preliminary approval to reauthorizing a little bit of Governor Perry’s Emerging Technology Fund.”
Taylor sees the president’s idea, and Governor Perry’s fund, as essentially two sides of the same coin: taxpayers helping to fund high-tech. He says the Texas example could gain national traction.
“You have a president who’s, you know, has been trying to pursue an economic agenda, and he’s struggled to do it. And you got Perry, who’s, basically, right now, sitting on a budget surplus. So there’s room for negotiation and discussion on how to encourage the Texas model, as it were, for the nation.”
But if the president’s plan catches on, Taylor cautions there needs to be stronger oversight from both the legislature and the media. He points out Governor Perry’s tech fund faces unresolved questions about cronyism and insider deals.