Mother Nature could not stop the 2014 legislative session from getting underway last week. Despite getting started a day later than scheduled, there was still much work to be accomplished at the Statehouse.
On Wednesday, House Speaker Brian C. Bosma announced the House Republican Legislative Agenda which focuses on five key areas to strengthen Indiana: preparing kids for their careers, connecting crossroads to communities, equipping our workforce, cutting taxes and stopping burdensome regulations.
It is important that we focus on preparing kids for their careers. In Indiana, 60 percent of 3 and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in a preschool program. Additionally, we are one of only 10 states that does not offer a state-funded pre-K program. We took the first steps towards investing in preschool education last year, and I want to expand those opportunities for Hoosiers most in need. Our caucus plans to expand high-quality preschool options for low-income students by creating a preschool voucher program.
As I travel on our roads in east central Indiana, I am reminded how crucial our highway infrastructure is to being the Crossroads of America. In fact, over $500 billion of goods traveled on Indiana roadways last year. Increasing our investment in roads provides jobs – through their design, construction and maintenance – and is crucial to our state’s economy and future growth.
Indiana’s business environment continues to be recognized as the best in the Midwest, but this pro-jobs environment is meaningless if we do not have qualified workers to fill the positions needed. We are fortunate to have several large businesses in our area, and I would like to see more companies join them here. Businesses that are looking to locate or expand often list a quality workforce as a top factor that determines their decision. This year, we will continue to address the skills gap to increase potential earnings of Hoosier workers.
Another point of the agenda is the business personal property tax. Indiana is one of 38 states that collects personal property taxes. All of our neighboring states either do not tax personal property at all or do so at a lower rate. We will introduce legislation that gives our local officials the option to eliminate personal property taxes on new investments. Since reliance on personal property taxes as a revenue source varies across the state, this local approach will allow each county to determine what is best for their community.
The final component of the House Republican agenda is to stop burdensome regulations. Regulations increase the cost and complexity of both government and business. By reducing the size and scope of government, we can be more efficient in the delivery of government services.
Along with these five priority items, we will address many other legislative topics over the next nine weeks. I appreciate hearing your input as I represent your voice in Indianapolis. Feel free to contact me by phone at 317-232-9509 or by email at email@example.com.