High tech highlights Clinton agenda

In the last State of the Union speech of his tenure, President Clinton Thursday night pledged to wipe out the "digital divide" that separates those who have access to technology and those who do not.

He promised to make it easier for schools to connect to the Internet, and he pledged more money to help schools "get students out of trailers and into high-tech classrooms."

Clinton wove repeated references to the world of high tech throughout his one-hour and 23-minute speech.

"We know we must connect all our classrooms to the Internet. We're getting there," Clinton said. In 1993, only 3 percent of classrooms were connected. Today, the number is 90 percent. But that is not enough, he said.

State and local governments can't finish the job until schools are repaired and rewired. Clinton pledged money to make repairs and modernize schools to deliver the technology. He also said his budget includes money to train teachers in 21st-century skills and to close the digital divide that affects lower-income and rural Americans.

"I thank the high-tech companies that are already doing so much in this area, and I hope the new tax incentives I have proposed will encourage others to join us," Clinton said.

In other high-tech initiatives, Clinton said he would:

* Work to protect the privacy of citizens' medical records, their bank and credit card statements as well as other financial records.

* Propose to Congress an unprecedented $3 billion increase in money for science and technology research.

* Help more women train for high-paying high-tech jobs.

"Information technology alone now accounts for a third of our economic growth, with jobs that pay almost 80 percent above the private-sector average," he said.

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