[R31] Focusing on jobs, education and fiscal integrity (1/15/2013)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Start Date: 1/15/2013 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 1/15/2013 End Time: 11:59 PM

The General Assembly is moving full speed ahead, putting before the public the issues that matter most to them. There are many topics that will be discussed this session, but my focus will be on three key issues facing Hoosiers: job creation, education and fiscal integrity.

A highly educated workforce is a key factor to Indiana’s future success. Indiana has been widely recognized for creating one of the most job-friendly business environments in the country. Indiana ranks first in the Midwest and fifth in the nation as the best place to do business in the Pollina Corporate Top 10 Pro-Business States for 2012 study.

With over 250 major jobs announcements this year, the General Assembly wants to ensure that Indiana has a qualified workforce to fill the positions being created. Economic experts agree that workforce quality is a top factor in determining where a business will locate or expand. 

House Bill 1002, authored by Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, and co-authored by Leader Pelath, Rep. Braun and Rep. Smaltz, will create an Indiana Career Council which is designed to make it easier for Hoosiers to gain the necessary education to find employment. Specifically, the bill matches the education and skills training provided by the state, job skills development and career training system with the currently existing and future needs of Indiana’s job market. The state’s education and workforce development training programs should be tailored for Hoosiers to fill job openings in Indiana and structured to inform the public of the skills needed to fill high-demand, high-wage jobs.

Having the tools in place for Hoosiers to succeed when they enter the workforce is critical. House Bill 1005, which is currently being considered by the Committee on Education, reduces remedial needs of high school graduates, so that when they enter postsecondary education, they are fully equipped with the ability and know-how to flourish. 

It also improves standards for dual credit courses by requiring students to receive a C or better in order to obtain college credit. Lastly, it reduces graduation waiver rates by prohibiting any student that receives a general diploma waiver from receiving state financial aid until they pass a college and career readiness assessment and the secondary school official determines that the student does not need additional remediation or instruction. By providing access to the right resources and training, Hoosiers will be better positioned to succeed in today’s globally dynamic marketplace.

Providing Hoosier students with a strong educational foundation is essential to their future success. In Indiana, 61 percent of children (ages 3-4) are not enrolled in preschool. Providing the funding and accessibility to this service will give Hoosier children the best possible start to their education. The General Assembly is focused on promoting and strengthening our state’s education system as over half of the budget is allocated to K-12 education.

Encompassing all of these bills is the budget bill, House Bill 1001. Enacting a balanced budget that lives within the state’s means is perhaps the most important task that the General Assembly must tackle in 2013. The Ways and Means Committee is currently hearing proposals and testimony for how state dollars should be appropriated for capital expenditures, the operation of the state, the delivery of Medicaid and other services. Crafting a fiscally sound budget provides the framework for our state’s continued sustainability and growth.

With the start of a new session, I look forward to once again serving the people of Indiana. If you have not already filled out a mailed or online survey, I invite you to fill it out online at www.in.gov/h31. As your state representative, it is important for me to hear your views and concerns on issues facing our state. Feel free to contact me by phone at 317-232-9509 or by email at h31@in.gov.