Passing a balanced budget is one of the most complex tasks a legislator can experience. There is no doubt this will be one of the most difficult budget sessions where our main focus will be passing a fiscally-sound budget without increasing any general taxes on already struggling Hoosiers. With unemployment being so high and with revenues being so low, we will certainly have a challenge ahead of us.
We will need to begin by addressing the fact that as a result of lower than expected revenues, our current budget is imbalanced. Indiana is not alone when it comes to facing budget challenges; we have 45 other states falling below their original projections as well.
But now is the time to focus on our future and what we can accomplish even in such hard economic times.
"Jobs" is a word on everyone's mind. How can we get them and keep them in Indiana? The most important thing Indiana can do as a leader in job creation is to pass a balanced budget with no tax increases that would burden workers or their employers.
Our positive business tax structure draws new businesses to the state and allows current businesses to prosper-a prime reason why Indiana ranks No. 1 in the Midwest in the Tax Foundation's 2010 Business Tax Climate Index. Financial stability has proven to lend itself to predictability, which is something businesses, perspective businesses and individual citizens alike appreciate.
Since January 2009, 66 firms have chosen Indiana to consolidate their operations, adding 10,466 in new jobs and more than $362 million in committed capital investment.
Those numbers have to continue to grow in order for us to see the light at the end of this recession tunnel. Therefore, we need to continue finding more creative ways to foster economic development with little or no cost to the state if we hope to continue leading the way as a job creation magnet.
While investing in our future is important, however, we should not ignore our current resources and abilities. One way to do that is to put a renewed focus on incentivizing the use of existing facilities that could revitalize hard hit communities. In doing so, we can provide local communities with additional economic development tools.
The more education we can give to our children-tomorrow's leaders-the better their future and Indiana's future will be. Historically, Indiana has relied heavily on its manufacturing industry. However, our new economy requires more education and training. Therefore, if Indiana is going to lure high-paying jobs, then we must have a highly educated workforce to fill the positions.
As previously stated, session is just around the corner and House floor debates surrounding the much-anticipated budget will begin before you know it!
As we meet in committees and prepare for session, we will continue to plan for legislation that will strengthen Indiana. We will get through this recession, and even better, come out on top. If anything, these tough times have given us a chance to make government better and less costly.