Last week, I wrote about the Department of Child Services and how they are focusing on ways to improve the lives of children and families. Investing in K-12 education and providing a safe environment for Hoosier children to learn is another priority of House Republicans, and the budget passed by our chamber does just that.
Education – The Key to Success
As a staunch advocate for children, I believe a solid education is one of the best ways to prepare a child for the future. The proposed House budget increases school operation funds by 3.3 percent, or $354 million, over the next two years; restoring the cuts made during the recession to public education. It also gives tuition support and money for full-day kindergarten, sticking to the principle of the “money follows the child.”
By prioritizing education funding, the House seeks to provide a better livelihood for future generations of Hoosiers who are capable and willing to lead our state to even higher ground. We’re already the fiscal envy of the nation, but I believe we can take it a step farther.
The National Education Association has published several reports explaining in detail the benefits of investing in early childhood education. Increased school preparedness, heightened academic retention, reduction of future crime and a greater long-term earning potential are just a few of the documented good things that come from a great early childhood education.
Funding full day kindergarten is just one way the House hopes to help young Hoosiers gain an advantage in life. Putting money into teacher recruitment of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects, funding innovative education programs and dropout prevention programs, investing capital into university infrastructure and promising research projects and increasing student financial aid are supported in the House’s budget for Indiana.
Increasing education funding is just one goal of the House’s proposed budget. Ensuring that children have the foundation they need to succeed in the career of their choice ties in with our objective of bridging the skills gap – another important objective. Currently, 67 percent of manufacturing companies are reporting a moderate or severe shortage of available, qualified workers. Indiana has a flourishing business atmosphere, and we want to ensure that Hoosiers have the skills necessary to fill open positions, especially with unemployment still hovering close to 8 percent.
The Indiana Career Council, Indiana Works Councils and Skills Enhancement Fund are all bills passed by either the House or Senate that directly correlate to more Hoosiers gaining experience in order to keep the human capital in Indiana ahead of other states or countries for that matter. Job creation is job one, and investing in workforce development and educational programs will help get Hoosiers back to work.
Jobs, education, fiscal integrity and prosperity – these straightforward goals driving the Indiana House of Representatives keep us focused on what really matters. Creating an atmosphere where Hoosiers can safely and happily live, work and raise a family, that is what we aim for.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding what’s going on at the Statehouse or in our district. I can be reached by phone at 317-232-9850 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Rep. Cindy Ziemke serves as Vice Chairman of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee. She also serves on the Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development Committee and the Select Committee on Government Reduction. Rep. Ziemke represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties.