The 2015 legislative session has come to a close. I am pleased that we followed through on the promises outlined in our House Republican agenda: budget integrity, education funding, ethics reform and public safety.
The most important bill we passed this session was the budget, which will fund Indiana for the next two fiscal years. The budget is honestly balanced and protects our strong reserves and healthy surplus. This allows Indiana to maintain our triple-A credit rating. We are committed to fiscal integrity and living within our means. A balanced budget allows future generations of Hoosiers to inherit opportunities rather than debts.
Because of our conservative budgeting principles, we were able to provide an increase of $474 million for K-12 education, the largest increase to education funding in Indiana’s history. Indiana has a track record of prioritizing education, and this year it was a specific goal of the House Republicans to improve education in a variety of ways.
In addition to funding, we passed legislation that eliminated unnecessary regulations burdening educators. We initiated innovation network schools to expand teachers’ opportunities to apply innovative ideas in the classroom. We also passed legislation to establish a pilot program facilitating dual language immersion in the classroom from an early age. Our children are our best hope for the future success of Indiana, and I am pleased that we were able to accomplish so much to continue providing each Hoosier child with the opportunity for an excellent education.
Another priority of the House Republicans this session was public safety. Indiana has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation. In order to lower this number, we established the Safety P.I.N. (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) grant program. Through this initiative, $13.5 million is available for grants that individuals with ideas to reduce infant mortality in Indiana can apply for. This year’s budget also doubles state funding for domestic violence prevention and treatment. Indiana’s domestic violence shelters are operating far above capacity and many victims have been turned away due to lack of funds and space. Increasing funding will ensure that more people are given the help they need.
Finally, the General Assembly passed ethics reform legislation to build upon our already rigorous transparency initiatives. As a part-time Legislature, most of our time is spent in the communities we represent. This is valuable when we come to the Statehouse because we are very informed about the needs of our communities. Increased ethics guidelines, including strengthening reporting requirements and disclosure of conflicts of interest, help legislators navigate the nuances of a part-time Legislature.
Each of these accomplishments will support Indiana’s economy for years to come. I am honored to have the opportunity to represent you in our state’s government. Thank you for sharing your opinions and concerns with me throughout session—your communication helped me make the best decisions for our district. I encourage you to stay involved with your government throughout the year. You can visit our website, www.indianahouserepublicans.com, to find news and information about what is happening at the Statehouse.
Rep. Mahan represents portions of Blackford, Delaware, Grant and Wells counties. He serves as Chairman of the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee. He also serves on the Family, Children and Human Affairs; and Insurance Committees.