The festivities of the holiday season have quieted in time for the lively proceedings of session at the Statehouse. With a new legislative session underway, I am looking forward to tackling the challenges and opportunities facing Indiana and addressing those topics this year. A new year brings new beginnings and new opportunities. I am fortunate enough to join my fellow representatives this week as we begin the great work of serving Indiana for the 2013 legislative session.
There are many issues that will be discussed this upcoming session, but my focus will be on three key issues facing Indiana: jobs, education and a two-year, balanced budget. All three of these priorities work in tandem to foster an environment that spurs job creation and economic development.
Recently, 67 percent of manufacturing companies in Indiana reported a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers. Fifty-six percent also expect the shortage to worsen in the upcoming years. To combat this issue, we must improve the level of education in Indiana and the accessibility to certifications, training programs and advanced degrees that directly address the employment needs in Indiana. Strengthening the partnerships between industry and education will be important to ensure students have the necessary workplace skills.
Promoting early childhood education and expanding education opportunities will help more Hoosiers get off to a better academic start and complete their education. Having the faculty, administration and teaching staff to inspire the future generations of Hoosiers to be a doctor, astronaut, lawyer or engineer is critical to our state’s long-term success. Many people are unaware of the severe shortage of teachers in the areas of math and science throughout the country. Even in the economic downturn, jobs requiring skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math remained in demand.
The funding for all of these programs will be addressed in our state’s two year budget this session. As legislators we are required to pass a balanced budget every two years that charts the financial course for our state. I will continue to advocate for measures that enable our state to live within its means while eliminating wasteful spending. This ideology has led to Indiana’s first ever triple-A credit; one of only nine states to have one. Indiana is on the right path, and I will work to ensure that our state remains fiscally solvent.
As always, I move forward, remembering the past. With the start of a new session, I look forward to once again serving the people of Indiana and always keep them in mind while making decisions on behalf of our district. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but, together, we can work towards solutions for the betterment of Indiana now and in the future. I truly hope 2013 brings new joys, accomplishments and happiness to you and your family.