STATEHOUSE — Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives, Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis), announced the end of session, or Sine Die on Friday evening, closing out a year of priorities achieved. The House Republican agenda, which was released in October, centered on making Indiana a stronger state for future generations, by focusing on fiscal integrity, job growth, and enhanced education opportunities for every Hoosier.
“We determined that two ways we could have the highest ability to improve life for the next generation: high paying job opportunities and an education that prepares young people for the realities of today’s workforce,” said Speaker Bosma. “I am proud to say that the work of the General Assembly has addressed these critical issues, and much more.”
The House Republicans’ “Own Your American Dream” plan focuses on three key concepts: financial security, matching Hoosier workers with high paying jobs, and making education investments.
Financial Security for Future Generations
“We passed a fiscally sound budget that funds our financial obligations while still holding firm to our unwavering and proven commitment to fiscal integrity,” said State Representative Matt Lehman (R-Berne). “Indiana’s smart approach to spending has left it lean and responsive to the needs of Hoosiers.”
Indiana is one of only nine states that has a AAA credit rating from all three credit agencies. Indiana holds a higher credit rating than the federal government, whose debt has now passed the $16 trillion mark for the first time in our nation’s history. That equates to more than $50,000 of debt for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
“In addition, we also introduced a new conservative concept in state budgeting: paying cash for projects and paying off the state’s debt burden,” said Speaker Bosma. “After all of those goals have been met, and with a proven track record of fiscal integrity, we are in the position to give Hoosiers the largest tax cut in the history of Indiana. This blend of tax relief will have a very positive impact on Hoosiers across the state and provides a tax cut for virtually every Hoosier.”
Bridging the Skills Gap
“One of the big issues that we dealt with this session was bridging the skills gap,” said Rep. Lehman. “We have taken significant steps to not only improve career and technical education in high schools, but to strengthen partnerships between industries and higher education. In addition, requiring high schools to provide a college and career readiness assessment reduces remedial needs of high school graduates, so that when they enter postsecondary education, they are fully equipped with the ability and know-how to flourish.”
According to the Indiana Vision 2025 report published by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, more than 930,000 Hoosiers lack even the most basic skills to thrive in today’s economy.
Designed to improve coordination, communication and vision for Indiana’s workforce training and career preparation systems, the Indiana Career Council (ICC) is a panel that will bring the principal stakeholders in the state’s workforce development efforts together to create a stronger plan to move Indiana forward. Members of the ICC will be charged with aligning the education skills and training provided by Indiana’s educational, job skills and career training systems with the existing and projected needs of the state’s job market. The legislation also puts into law a longitudinal data system to track the effectiveness of the state’s educational and workforce programs.
Leaders in Classrooms; Leaders in Life
Currently, there are nearly two and a half science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs for every one unemployed person in Indiana. Despite the economic downturn, these jobs have remained in demand, and will only increase as technology marches on. HEA 1001 creates a STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund and new stipend programs for teachers that are in high demand.
In Indiana, 61 percent of children (ages 3-4) are not enrolled in a preschool program. Only six states have a higher percentage of children not attending a preschool. The budget creates a Pre-K Matching Program. School choice was also expanded for students with disabilities, special needs, and siblings. There is no longer a requirement for students in failing school districts.
“This legislative session has reinforced our commitment to fiscal integrity, quality jobs and education opportunities for our children,” said Rep. Lehman. “We have worked together to keep Indiana on a path of continued economic growth.”