[r53] Cherry Chat: With a new year come new challenges (1/11/2011)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Start Date: 1/11/2011 All Day
End Date: 1/11/2011
A new year brings new challenges, new revenue numbers and new opportunities. The next legislative session begins this week, Wednesday actually, but discussions for 2011 have been happening since the conclusion of last session.

Although Indiana remains ahead of our surrounding states, and most of the nation, we still have work to do in order to make our state better. The budget will be the first step in that process.

As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee and sub-committee chairman for the budget, I believe Indiana should live within its means. If we want to get out of this recession and come out ahead of our competition, we have to tighten our belts-just as most Hoosiers families are doing.

The recent revenue forecast projections showed modest growth, but we need to have a steady trend in order to sustain revenue. In addition, our expected growth rates are significantly lower than in the periods following most previous recessions. These projections should emphasize to us how important it is to include only what's necessary in the budget for the sake of Indiana's future.

The budget will not be the only area of discussion this legislative session. Job creation and education are tied for second.

However, all three issues are interlinked. If our Hoosier students can receive an education that prepares them to enter the workforce and we have jobs waiting for them, in turn, we will gain revenue for the state and pay less into the unemployment fund. More money would be able to be spent on education, police and fire safety, roads, etc.

I am fully aware that this will be easier said than done, which is why we have a long legislative session ahead of us-full of committee meetings, public testimony and floor discussions.

I am also certain these three issues won't be the only ones to surface this session. Saying that, if you live in the district I represent, I would like for you take a moment to fill out my legislative survey online. You can log onto my website at www.in.gov/h53. As your state representative it's important that I hear your concerns and views on the issues facing our state.

Usually I would mail out a survey to be mailed back, but I am doing it differently this year in order to save some money. However, if you do not have Internet access and would prefer a hard copy, please contact my office at 1-800-382-9841.

Another opportunity I would like to share is the House Page Program. We offer the chance for students between the ages of 13 and 18 to come into the Statehouse to get a firsthand experience of legislative activity.

Pages will have an excused day of absence from their school, but are responsible for finding their means of transportation both to and from the Statehouse.

Availability fills up fast, so interested students are encouraged to apply as quickly as possible. Those students interested in serving as a page should go to my website and click on the "Students" tab, then "Become a page."

Have your first and second choice dates ready, and provide the student's name, address, age, home phone number and school. I look forward to seeing our local students come and visit!

Now that session is finally here, you can expect to see bi-weekly updates from me in our community newspaper. Every column will discuss the happenings taking place over at the Statehouse, so be sure to take a look. It's going to be an interesting session, with many new faces and a brand new year.

With every New Year, comes many new challenges, and I think we are ready to face them head on.