Behning: Addressing Hoosier needs

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, January 29, 2016 9:09 am

Addressing Hoosier needs

With session in full swing, House Republicans are fully committed to leading Indiana forward. We are focused on the needs of Hoosiers, particularly education, transportation infrastructure and curbing illegal drugs. All three of these issues are top priorities this session. They are integral to House Republicans’ ongoing work to ensure that Indiana is the best place to work, live and raise a family.

This session, we are especially focused on attracting and retaining the best and brightest educators for our students. I am pleased to report that both bills decoupling ISTEP scores from teacher evaluations and schools’ A-F grades during this transition to higher standards have been signed into law. Additionally, the House Committee on Education met almost every day this past week to consider legislation. During committee, we discussed potential changes to ISTEP, including creating a commission to explore options for the next generation of assessment which would replace the current test. During this discussion, we added an amendment that could allow the State Board of Education to call for a rescore of the spring 2015 ISTEP test if they deem it necessary. This would ensure an accurate baseline to compare with future test scores.  

The single most important factor influencing student achievement is a good teacher. We know that keeping experienced teachers in Hoosier classrooms benefits both student achievement and the educator’s professional development. To those ends, multiple pieces of legislation were proposed and passed out of the House Committee on Education this week to give schools more flexibility to attract and hire educators. For example, one bill would allow schools to offer a salary anywhere on the pay scale to educators who would teach hard-to-fill positions, such as science, technology, English, math (STEM), speech-language pathologists and special education. It would also allow educators with out-of-state teaching licenses to teach in Indiana.

Over the past decade, House Republicans have led Indiana to become a national leader in road funding and infrastructure investment, and we will continue to maintain this position for the next generation.  Unfortunately, Indiana’s roads and bridges will need an estimated additional $1.5 billion annually over the next 20 years. Our current state highway system needs an estimated $250-$300 million immediately to be kept in driving condition. Already, the House Committee on Ways and Means has passed a solution to secure additional funding. With this legislation, House Republicans have proposed a comprehensive and sustainable plan for road funding. We must maintain our reputation as the Crossroads of America.

To continue moving forward, we need to address the growing number of drug-related incidents in our state. The Indiana State Police has reported over 1,000 heroin cases statewide since 2013. The House Committee on Public Health worked this week to propose solutions addressing mental health and addiction matters.

As these issues move through the legislative process, I will consider all options carefully. As your state representative, it is my responsibility to make sure your voice is heard at the Statehouse. Please contact me at h91@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9643 to share your opinion with me.

 

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State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents

portions of Marion and Hendricks counties.