Cherry: Driving Indiana to a stronger, safer future

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, January 20, 2017 8:57 am

Last week, Gov. Eric Holcomb gave his first State of the State address. He discussed his main pillars of transformational priorities and our collective goal to take Indiana to the next level. We share many of the same priorities.

One of these priorities is to maintain our strong and diverse economy. As a lawmaker, I’m committed to enacting policies that ensure Indiana remains a magnet for jobs and economic development. Currently, our unemployment rate is below the national average. We have many dedicated, hardworking Hoosiers in our state; however, our workforce must continue to grow and develop even further. In fact, many industries cannot fill all their job openings due to a lack of skilled applicants. 

By 2022, there will be nearly 1 million additional jobs that need to be filled in our state, if we hope to compete in a global economy. Most of these positions require bright, driven individuals. This year’s House Bill 1008 provides short- and long-term solutions to improve and align Indiana’s workforce agencies and programs to put us on track to fill these jobs with trained and qualified Hoosiers.

Indiana has a reputation for getting business done. We rank first in the Midwest for our business climate. Ultimately, we want to continue attracting more businesses and new residents to Indiana. Our low taxes and balanced budget continue to bring top employers to our state.

Another issue the General Assembly will be tackling this session is a long-term road funding plan. Over the next 20 years, Indiana will need an additional $1.2 billion on average every year to adequately fund our transportation infrastructure system. Addressing this shortfall in a sustainable manner is imperative if we want to maintain our status as the Crossroads of America. House Bill 1002 begins the conversation on how to best fund our immediate and future infrastructure needs, without saddling future generations with mountains of debt. There will be many debates over the next several months as all stakeholders come to the table to find the best solution for our roads and bridges. It’s an issue that touches every Hoosier home, business and farm.

Indiana is in the grips of a drug epidemic that needs immediate and urgent attention. Our state is facing high levels of illegal drug abuse, particularly methamphetamine, heroin and opioids. While Indiana State Police recently reported a 35 percent decrease in meth lab incidents, still too many Hoosiers are having their lives consumed by addiction. The epidemic’s widespread effects impact innocent children, many of whom require foster care, as well as entire neighborhoods and communities.

We must change the way we view, assess and treat drug addiction to make Indiana a healthier and safer state. One way House Republicans are working to do this is with House Bill 1006. Under this proposal, the statewide Recovery Works grant program would be expanded to provide mental health and substance abuse treatment to those who have committed a misdemeanor, helping more people combat addiction and hopefully, turn their life around.

We will also continue to support law enforcement in their constant efforts to keep our communities safe. Because their salaries are not competitive with their municipal counterparts and other states, House Republicans are also proposing to raise Indiana State Police pay this year.

Throughout this session, the General Assembly will be working together to do what it takes to keep Hoosiers moving in the right direction. I encourage you to continue sharing your thoughts with me either by phone at 317-232-9651 or by email at h53@iga.in.gov. Don’t forget, there is still time to mail in your completed legislative survey or fill it out online at www.in.gov/h53.

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Rep. Cherry represents House District 53, which

includes portions of Hancock and Madison counties.

He serves as Vice Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

A high-resolution photo of Cherry can be downloaded by clicking here.