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[r29] Column: Working on Progress
Start Date: 1/15/2014 All Day
End Date: 1/15/2014
Entry Description
Working on Progress

Last week, the House Republican caucus announced our agenda for the 2014 Legislative Session, titled “Working on Progress.” While it is a “short session,” we are still set to address a number of issues important to our state, including: preschool education, road funding, workforce development, business taxation and deregulation.

Indiana is heavily invested in education and the well-being of Hoosier students; the state spends over half of its biannual budget on K-12 education and higher education. With this, Hoosier students are still entering kindergarten or 1st grade beyond their peers. I want to continue the work we start last year by expanding high-quality preschool programs to more low-income families. Sixty percent of Hoosier children between the ages of 3 and 4 are not enrolled in preschool, and consequently, we are one of only ten states that does not offer state-funded preschool programs. 

Top preschool programs better equip children for the classroom and provide a stronger foundation for their future education. Socioeconomics shouldn’t hinder families and students from having a high quality education, which we all know is a doorway to endless opportunities. This is an investment in a brighter future for kids and our state.

The next agenda item for the session will be to increase road funding. Over $500 billion of goods traveled on Indiana roadways last year, so it is important that we keep our roads in good condition to maximize the flow of traffic and ensure future growth for our state. Much progress has been made through the Major Moves initiative that launched in 2005. This 10-year plan provided funding to significantly expand and improve roads across the state. However, all of the money set aside for the program has already been spent or is reserved for future projects through 2015. Even with the Major Moves initiative, there is still a need for more funding to keep our roads safe. We intend to introduce legislation that would move money already approved and set aside to be used more quickly for current construction projects. 

Another main focus over the next few months is to better equip our workforce. A highly educated workforce is the key factor to the future success of our state. Sixty-seven percent of manufacturing companies across the nation reported a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers, of these, 56 percent of them anticipate the shortage to worsen in the next three years. We will be introducing legislation to create a program that will encourage partnerships between education institutions and businesses. The goal would be for educators and industrial hiring managers to work together to provide students with direct work experience alongside a quality education. 

A great example of this is a partnership between Toyota and Vincennes University that was announced last year. Through that program, students earn a wage while attending college and gain valuable work experience with a world-class manufacturer. The students then have the potential to be hired by Toyota upon graduation. This kind of partnership gives our students an excellent skillset and education and provides employers with the highly skilled workers they need.

Indiana continues to be ranked as one of the best states for businesses because of our tax climate. One of the last roadblocks affecting our pro-business climate is the Business Personal Property Tax. All of our neighboring states either do not tax personal property and or do so at a lower rate than Indiana. This tax discourages businesses from investing in new equipment and can cause them to make purchase decisions based on financial restrictions instead of what they actually need to be competitive and hire Hoosiers. In order to stay ahead of the competition and keep our top spot, we want to provide local officials the option to eliminate this tax, giving them more tools to attract employers.

The last bullet of the agenda is to find ways to keep government limited by eliminating burdensome regulations. We want to repeal unnecessary and outdated laws and regulations and cut red tape for small businesses. Indiana’s code has almost doubled in size since 1976. Many of these rules and regulations have become outdated and complicate matters that should not be so. Getting rid of antiquated legislation in a prudent manner reduces complexity, costs and confusion for businesses and Hoosiers in general.

We may only be in session for 10 weeks, but as you can see we have a lot that we will be covering. We are committed to building upon Indiana’s recent successes and addressing the key issues facing our great state.

I am greatly looking forward to diving into the session and as always welcome your feedback. 

-30-

Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: (317) 232-9831
Email: nicholas.goodwin@iga.in.gov
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    House of Representatives Republican Caucus

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