[R75] 2014 Republican agenda: Working on Progress (1/17/2014)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Start Date: 1/17/2014 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 1/17/2014
Last week, House Speaker Brian Bosma announced the caucus’ agenda for the 2014 legislative session. Included in this list of top priorities are matters such as early childhood education, bridging the skills gap, the repair and maintenance of state and local roads, an optional removal of the business personal property tax and reducing government regulation.  While on the surface these may appear to be separate issues, they are all very much intertwined and are essential for the growth, stability and vitality of our state. 

My number one priority is to boost the economy and provide the best business climate so more jobs can be created in the private sector. That is a responsibility that we have to the people of this great state and a responsibility that doesn’t begin the day Hoosiers graduate from high school. It begins at a very young age. 

Studies indicate that children who enroll in preschool are more likely to graduate from high school, go to college and obtain a higher-paying job. This session, we want to expand high quality preschool options for low-income students, so they have a better chance at excelling academically, and eventually, professionally. High quality schools lift communities and strengthen neighborhoods. The impact of our education system sets the stage for Hoosier prosperity and is absolutely essential for our state’s upward mobility. 

The skills gap facing many Hoosiers and Hoosier employers is also closely dependent on the state’s education system. While Indiana’s unemployment level remains slightly above seven percent, 67 percent of Indiana’s manufacturing companies report shortages of available, qualified workers. Addressing this pressing issue means ensuring the highest quality education possible for Hoosier students of all ages. Ultimately, the best education is that which adequately prepares students for the available jobs of today and the future.  

Unlike many other states, Indiana is suffering more from a lack of qualified workers than a lack of available jobs. However, if we want to continue to attract businesses to Indiana, we must also focus on the condition of our roads. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, every $1 billion invested in highways supports 27,800 jobs. By transferring a portion of the funds previously allocated in last year’s biannual budget, we will be able to support the creation of more jobs without opening up the budget or increasing state revenue collections. 

Another way to attract more businesses to Indiana is through the personal property tax. When compared to many of our neighbors, Indiana is an outlier on this issue. All of our neighboring states either do not tax personal property or do so at a lower rate. Without this tax, businesses will have an increased incentive to come to Indiana because it will save them money. In fact, businesses could save up to $100 million per year if the need for them to calculate, pay and file personal property taxes was eliminated. Every county in Indiana relies on this tax to a different degree though, and as a result, the legislation proposed this year would give locals the option to eliminate personal property taxes on new investments. This will give local officials the ability to decide what is best for them and proceed accordingly. 

To further ease the burden that government regulations can create, we will also take a critical look at our past legislation, cutting red tape for small businesses and Hoosiers wherever possible. Part of my responsibility as your state representative is to be able to objectively access a situation and recognize when our reach has created more harm than good. Through the Government Reduction Committee, we have been able to cut 40 government boards and commissions and more than 400 government appointments in the last year alone. However, the efficiency of government and the effectiveness of the services provided is a constant job that always requires review and prudence.

With these agenda items at the forefront of our minds, I will continue to work every day to do what is best for the people of District 75. I look forward to what this session has in store, and I believe that by working towards these goals, we will ensure that Indiana continues to stand out among the rest of the country.