When state legislators gather in Indianapolis, they do a lot more than just dole out money to schools and set tax rates, although those may be the things you hear about the most.
Helping businesses, prompting job growth and providing relief to school districts were all goals that the Republican Caucus set for this legislative session.
Thankfully, we accomplished them.
By fostering a business-friendly atmosphere, we're not just encouraging business owners to hire back workers.
We're also tempting other, currently out-of-state companies to consider relocating or consolidating here, which can open up hundreds of jobs at one time in a particular community.
For example, Indiana provides a tax credit for businesses which retain jobs called EDGE. Previously, a business had to employ at least 35 employees in order to qualify; this year, we repealed that provision, opening up the incentive to smaller businesses.
At the beginning of session, Republicans put job creation and Indiana businesses at the top of our agenda.
Senate Enrolled Act 23 did what we set out to do by repealing the biggest business/employer tax increase Indiana has ever seen, which would have upped unemployment insurance taxes on nearly 80,000 small, medium and larger employers by more than $700 million statewide over the next two years.
This tax increase had passed last year without the support of a single Republican. We have worked hard this year to get it repealed so that businesses can remain successful.
In the process, we protected over 2 million Hoosiers jobs.
Although the tax increase was repealed, the final product was not everything we hoped it would be.
The majority party added an amendment that removes the requirement for an individual to continue their job search in order to receive unemployment.
To me, it seems appropriate for someone who is actively searching for a job to be granted support from the state, but the majority party did not agree.
Another part of the Republican agenda for 2010 was to assist school districts and protect the jobs of teachers in Indiana.
House Enrolled Act 1367 allows schools to transfer up to 10 percent of their maximum Capital Projects Fund levy. For schools that give pay raises to any employees this year, as other state employees have had to go without for the last two years, they will be allowed to move another 5 percent.
The idea is that by allowing schools to shuffle money out of funds which were previously locked down, it's like giving them more money- without raising taxes.
My Republican colleagues and I specifically pushed to protect teachers' jobs during this process, and only allow schools to reallocate these funds if they promised not to lay off teachers. The majority, however, shot down every such amendment we offered.
Despite that set back, I think HEA 1367 will help school districts use what funds they have so our children's education will not suffer.
In the next couple of weeks, I'll give you the insider view on several other bills passed this year which will have a significant effect on your daily life, and I'll also give you the scoop on several measures which didn't pass.
If you have questions about the bills I've mentioned today, or would like to share what you think, please feel free to contact me at the Statehouse toll-free at 1-800-382-9841, directly at 317-234-3825 or by email email@example.com.