When the Indiana House Republicans unveiled the 2014 legislative agenda, we knew that we had set some lofty goals for a short session. Our goals included cutting taxes, increasing funding for roads, bridging the skills gap, creating a preschool voucher program and cutting unnecessary government regulations. Ten weeks later, I am proud of the work that we have done to achieve those goals, and I would like to share some of the specifics and how Hoosiers will benefit.
It has long been our priority to make Indiana the most business-friendly state in the country, so more jobs would be created in Indiana. The Business Personal Property Tax (BPPT) is one of the last black marks on our otherwise attractive tax climate checklist. We wanted counties to have the option to eliminate the BPPT on new investments, so local governments would have more tools available to them to attract employers looking to relocate from out of state, or encourage existing employers to expand. All of Indiana’s neighboring states either do not tax BPPT or do so at a much lower rate. This is a good step to making Indiana more competitive to outside investors and entrepreneurs.
Businesses also look at the condition of the state’s infrastructure to support commerce. As the Crossroads of America, we are known for being a connector of goods and services in the Midwest. We passed House Bill (HB) 1002, which allows a transfer of up to $400M in state funds to be used with upwards of $1.6B in federal dollars supplementing our investment for statewide road construction projects. This increased investment in roads will directly provide more jobs for Hoosiers and help our state to realize future economic opportunity.
With the new jobs being created in Indiana, we want to make sure Hoosiers have the skills to fill these available positions. It’s important to offer educational opportunities outside the traditional scope of the classroom. We must give students the skills required to meet the demands of tomorrow. While Indiana’s unemployment rate continues to drop, too many jobs are going unfilled because qualified candidates cannot be found. HB 1003 provides additional incentives to employers who partner with education institutions to provide internships in high wage, high demand jobs. This will help Hoosier students get real-world experience in industries and give businesses an opportunity to fill positions with their company.
While this is a great educational tool for high school and college students, the importance of an education begins much earlier. Indiana has some of the best academic standards in the country for K-12, however our state is also one of the few states without a state-supported preschool program. As a result, 60 percent of children ages 3-4 are not enrolled in preschool. HB 1004 establishes a preschool pilot program for students of low-income families. The program is limited to families at 127 percent of the federal poverty level and below. While pre-school remains just an option, no child should have to start kindergarten at an academic disadvantage simply because of their economic status.
As legislators, we must do everything we can to promote economic growth, and sometimes that means reevaluating the work of previous sessions and repealing measures that have proven to be ineffective. In an effort to bring more efficient delivery of government services and greater functionality of the free market, HB 1005 does just that. This legislation removes outdated regulations and burdensome policies that hamstring small businesses. A smaller government is a more efficient government.
Together, these measures will encourage economic growth and continue to push our state forward as the economic and fiscal envy on the nation. I am proud to serve in this legislative body, and I look forward to the interim when we will continue to work for the successful future of our great state.