[r31] From a freshman's perspective (1/14/2011)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Start Date: 1/14/2011 All Day
End Date: 1/14/2011
The freshmen class of Republican legislators was in for quite a surprise when the 117th legislative session got underway last Wednesday.

The first day of session, to me, is similar to the first day of school. When students return to the classroom, the day is spent reviewing the syllabus, discussing objectives and setting the tone for the upcoming term. In the House, the first day's agenda typically consists of the minority leader delivering his plan for what his party would like to see accomplished, and then the Speaker adjourns for the day.

You would think that such a day would go smoothly. Even the returning members probably couldn't have predicted that their first day back would begin with an argument that resembled a schoolyard rumble.

The Democratic minority stalled floor proceedings with needless debates over procedural moves, causing the session to last more than two hours. But on the second day, we were able to get started without a hitch.

I'm hoping this attitude will carry on throughout the remainder of session so we can focus on the issues that need to be addressed. Bipartisanship is essential to a productive legislative session, especially in the midst of a recession.

Two of the most important issues that will be up for debate are job creation and education reform. I firmly believe that these go hand-in-hand, so we need to focus on putting these discussions at the top of our list of priorities.

Although decreasing unemployment numbers have shown some sign of promise that employers are hiring, many still wonder when we are going to see real relief. Government cannot create the jobs that will bring us out of this recession, but we can create an atmosphere that is job friendly. 

In a time when jobs are hard to come by, Indiana has been fortunate enough to be selected as the new home for several companies - a positive sign of economic recovery.

As a district, we have been able to retain jobs, but also gain new ones. Grant County has been named as the new headquarters for companies with local and international roots. In addition, our state has avoided raising taxes, which makes it an even more attractive place for businesses looking for a new location.

While we have shown many businesses why Indiana is a smart choice to locate, we need to keep finding more creative ways to help the state continue to bring more jobs.

The face of the economy is changing. For many generations of workers, extensive education was not necessary to obtain a good paying job. However, many of these jobs no longer exist due to outsourcing, improved technology or a decreased demand. We are starting to see a manufacturing-based economy be replaced with a new economy that requires more education and training.

If we provide high-quality education options for families, recognize and reward great teachers, and encourage an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age, we can create an environment that will produce a highly educated workforce to fill the jobs that are coming to our state.

Education reform, in addition to job creation, is on the frontline this session. It's a conversation that needs to happen, and I am excited to hear the debate on how to better prepare our students for the future.

With the combination of job creation and education reform, Indiana will continue to flourish as a leader into a new era. I'm confident that we can make our state a better place to work and live.

I am always open to your thoughts and ideas, and I encourage you to contact me with any questions or concerns that you may have. You can contact me at 1-800-382-9841 or at H31@IN.gov. Just like in the classroom, if we work together, we can create an environment that will benefit Indiana now and in the future.