A new session of the Indiana General Assembly began last week. The House Republicans have developed a constructive agenda for the 2015 session that focuses on increasing accountability for all Hoosiers while strengthening Indiana in four major categories: budget, education, ethics and public safety.
Indiana’s biennial budget, which impacts nearly every aspect of the state, is crafted during odd-numbered years. My goal is to help pass an honestly balanced budget with no tax increases that maintains sufficient reserves and a healthy surplus. Indiana has a history of fiscal responsibility, and this year we will continue that tradition.
In addition to the budget, the House Republicans have identified education as one of the top priorities on our legislative agenda. Nearly two-thirds of Indiana’s budget is devoted to K-12 and higher education funding. As Chairman of the House Education Committee, my goal is to work with my colleagues to improve the quality of education in our state while ensuring that we live within our means.
We have made great strides over the last five years to give Hoosier families more high-quality education options and the ability to make the best choice for their students. Last year, I authored legislation that established a preschool pilot program for students from low-income families. By expanding opportunities to low-income children through quality pre-K education, we are supporting a stronger future for all Hoosier children. This year, I will continue my work to improve Indiana’s education system. I want to ensure that your children, our grandchildren and future generations, all have access to the most competitive, well-rounded education system.
To continue improving education, this year we will work to address the funding formula to ensure that all schools in Indiana are fairly and adequately supported. We will also work to keep more dollars in the classroom and facilitate innovative learning. Additionally, we will focus on establishing a tax credit for public school teachers. Many teachers are spending their own money on classroom supplies for their students, and this tax credit would enable them to gain funds to assist those purchases.
Public safety is another area I will focus on this session. In both Marion and Hendricks counties, over 10 percent of women reported smoking during their pregnancy, and Indiana as a whole is ranked 45th in the nation for infant mortality. In response to these and other statistics, I will work with my colleagues to provide resources and strategies that support new and expectant mothers. I will also work to provide local government with more tools and resources to address their public safety concerns, such as domestic violence.
The final pillar of our agenda will focus on increasing transparency and strengthening employment disclosure laws. We are accountable to you, and we feel the weight of your trust. Building on our past initiatives, such as live-streaming session and committee meetings online, we will continue to safe-guard the public trust in our work. The public’s confidence is indispensable to faith in democracy.
I appreciate hearing your feedback on these and other important issues affecting our state. Feel free to contact me by phone at 317-232-9643 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents portions of Marion and Hendricks counties. He serves as Chairman of the Education Committee. He also serves on the Public Health Committee and the Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee.