Hoosiers have every right to be nervous about the economy right now.
State revenues are still falling short of projections. Washington, D.C. seems not to be listening to the wishes of the American people. Communities are still fumbling for answers: where are the jobs? When will they return? Why aren't we seeing more results from our education dollars?
I'd like to share a few ways that my colleagues and I intend to address these very issues next year, if given the chance to control the Indiana House and craft the state budget.
First of all, we must realize: before the jobs can bounce back, the employers must bounce back.
Nearly 85 percent of all Indiana employers are small businesses with between one and twenty employees, ranking Indiana 18th among states in terms of the sheer number of small businesses.
We are proud to have such an entrepreneurial state spirit, and realize the vital role that these employers play.
Therefore, if given the chance, the legislature will be working on measures to foster that spirit and help pave the way for business owners to set up shop in Indiana.
We would require the commission for Higher Education (CHE) to survey and develop entrepreneurial education programs for all Indiana Universities.
We would streamline the one-stop shop portal for new small businesses within the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).
We would suspend the application fee required for a business to become a "Qualified Indiana Business" to allow for faster growth.
We would enhance the Industrial Recovery Site (Dinosaur Building) Tax Credit to encourage the rehabilitation and use of vacant factories by budding companies.
As employers look increasingly to Indiana as a destination for growth and relocation, we must make sure we have a properly trained workforce to fill those jobs that are coming.
As a former teacher myself, I believe Indiana should not fear changing a system that is not serving every student. Too often, excellence in teaching goes unrecognized and poor performance goes unaddressed.
So while no school, legislature or community structure can manage a child's home life, we can legislate regarding educational opportunities that a student would receive within the classroom.
In 2006, Republicans passed the Dollars to the Classroom Tracking Law- a law which required the state to compute the ratio of student instructional expenditures to all other expenditures for each school corporation.
Rather than attaching funding to institutions, we would give incentives to schools to lower the cost of insurance benefits, provide bonus pay to teachers passing a voluntary competency test in their core subject area, and address retention of high performing teachers in layoff situations.
Next time, I'll lay out a Plan for protecting Hoosier taxpayers and ways that we will stand up to Washington, D.C.'s tax and spend mindset.
State Rep. Phyllis Pond (R-New Haven) represents portions of Allen and DeKalb counties.