Merry Christmas (12/20/2013)

Friday, December 20, 2013 7:00 pm

Start Date:  12/20/2013  Start Time:  8:00 AM
End Date:  12/20/2013  End Time:  8:00 AM
The last year was certainly a whirlwind of activity. Almost a year ago, I packed my bags and headed to Indianapolis for my first session as your state representative. For four months I spent my weeks traveling between our district and the Statehouse, learning about a multitude of issues and championing the needs and opinions of our community. I want to keep the open dialogue going this session as everyone’s input is critical to creating good public policy. 

Last session opened my eyes to all the great things Indiana is doing and the opportunities that lie before us. In 2013, Hoosiers saw the largest tax cut package in Indiana history. By eliminating the death tax, reducing the income tax by 5 percent, continuing the reduction of the corporate income tax and lowering the financial institutions tax, more than $650 million will remain in the hands of Hoosiers each year.

The Legislature focused on policy that facilitates job creation and career development opportunities, helping Indiana to attain the rank of 10th in the nation in the number of private sector jobs added in 2013, coming in at about 47,600. We also rank 2nd in the nation in the number of manufacturing jobs added (64,800) and percentage of growth (15.1) since July 2009. 

Despite these accomplishments, our state is not perfect. Our unemployment rate is dropping, currently at 7.2 percent, but is still too high; 67 percent of manufacturing companies report a lack of available qualified workers, highlighting the skills gap in Indiana ; and the costs of higher education are saddling students with substantial debt following graduation. These are challenges that we can overcome, and I know Indiana is up to the task. Our state’s fiscal position is one of the best in the country and that sets the stage for all government functions to work efficiently and effectively. I intend to continue working toward solutions that will help our state grow and prosper. 

In just a few short weeks, I will be headed back to the Statehouse for the start of the 2014 legislative session. I will take with me all the suggestions, ideas and opinions that you shared with me over the last year in order to incorporate them into the discussions about how to improve our state.

I am looking forward to 2014 and all the new challenges, experiences and adventures it brings. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of House District 82 and to be the voice of our community at the state level. 

It can be hard not to get wrapped up in all the politics and legislative proceedings throughout the year and before session, but it is of the highest importance to celebrate the Christmas season with friends, family and loved ones. It is a time to reflect on what we are thankful for in our lives and to help make the season a little brighter for those around you. A small donation to a local food pantry, shoveling an elderly neighbor’s driveway or just stopping by to say hello to someone who might be spending the holiday alone goes a long way toward spreading joy.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas, and I hope the New Year brings you many more blessings.

Rep. Ober represents all of Noble County and portions of Allen, Elkhart, LaGrange and Whitley counties.