Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Is — Lieutenant governors from 16 U.S. states and territories said they would support increasing educational funds, boosting awareness of Hepatitis C and making the national director of homeland security a Cabinet-level position, officials said.
The lieutenant governors made the declarations of support in resolutions during a weeklong conference that ended Saturday in St. Croix.
During the week, delegates also participated in workshops on topics ranging from Medicaid funding to insurance regulation.
"It's a blend of getting new information about running government, and sharing successes and strategies," said Kansas Lt. Gov. Gary Sherrer, chairman of the National Association of Lieutenant Governors.
"We share best practices what has worked in our states and what hasn't," he said.
Noting that some delegates had received criticism for having this year's conference at a tourist resort in this U.S. Caribbean territory, Sherrer said the venue had been planned for more than a year.
He said the conference might even help boost business on the island, which had been hard-hit by a drop in tourism after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. But he objected to the perception that the delegates had come to St. Croix with their families on a junket.
"Why wouldn't we come here?" he said. "Sure, we had the pleasure of some good entertainment and exposure to the culture here, but by and large we were working the whole time."
St. Croix gained some national exposure with the conference, which was also attended by lobbyists from several large corporations, said U.S. Virgin Islands Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II. He did not name the corporations.
Delegates came from Alabama, Arkansas, the U.S. territory of Guam, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah and the U.S. Virgin Islands attended the conference, James said.