It’s hard to believe that another session is already beginning. While I am thankful for the opportunity to continue serving you at the Statehouse, there’s a lot of work to be done to continue moving Indiana forward.
During session, our main focus will be passing an honestly balanced, fiscally responsible state budget for the next two years. Our budget funds critical government services like education and public safety. I will support a budget that keeps Indiana operating efficiently and within its means – just as Hoosiers like you do every day. Additionally, we will maintain our AAA credit rating and our prudent state reserve balance, which guards against sudden economic downturns.
Lawmakers are also working to find a long-term funding solution for our transportation infrastructure. Recently, House Republicans announced our plan to sustainably maintain Indiana’s current roads and bridges, finish projects that we have already started and build for the future. A panel of experts concluded late last year that Indiana will need on average an additional $1 billion per year over the next 20 years. Last year, I worked with my colleagues to provide immediate funding for road and bridge improvements to all communities, small and large, and I will continue working to secure equitable funding for both rural and urban communities.
Education continues to be a top priority for the General Assembly. Studies show that one of the best ways to close the achievement gap for low-income, at-risk children is high-quality early childhood education. This year, we will be looking at ways to responsibly expand our current pilot pre-K program. On My Way Pre-K is for 4-year-olds with families below 127 percent of the poverty line. This five-year program serves roughly 2,300 low-income children in five counties including Allen, Lake, Marion, Jackson and Vanderburgh. We’re now halfway through year two.
Providing high-quality programs for young Hoosiers has always been a passion of mine. As a father of three sons, I know the importance of starting a child’s education off right. In 2014, I authored a law that implemented commonsense health and safety requirements for daycares that accept Child Care Development Fund vouchers. Now with a responsible expansion of On My Way Pre-K being considered, lawmakers are ensuring that taxpayer dollars are being used effectively, particularly for those children most in need.
Last session, the General Assembly created a panel tasked with finding a replacement for the ISTEP test. The panel – comprised of mostly educators – met during the summer and fall months and made recommendations to the General Assembly. Scot Croner, the Superintendent of Blackford County Schools, was an active and valuable member of this committee.
Now, we’re looking at responsible options to replace the repealed ISTEP exam with an efficient and effective new examination. We will take the panel’s recommendations seriously, providing the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education the flexibility to devise an assessment that is shorter, less expensive and has a quicker grading turnaround. Our students, parents, teachers and taxpayers deserve no less.
In order to represent you to the best of my ability, I ask you to provide your feedback on some of the important issues we will be addressing this session. You can provide this feedback by completing my 2017 legislative survey, which can be found online at www.in.gov/h31.
You can also share your thoughts with me by email at email@example.com or by phone at 317-234-9499. You can stay up to date with what I’m working on at the Statehouse by signing up for my e-newsletter at www.in.gov/h31.
State Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City) represents House District 31, which
includes Blackford County and portions of Delaware, Grant and Wells counties.
A high-resolution photo of Mahan can be downloaded by clicking here.