STATEHOUSE - The 2011 legislative session has been a session of historic challenges and historic accomplishments. Despite the road bumps presented this session House Republicans have delivered on the promises they made in 2010. Rep. Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne) along with other House Republican legislators presented the 'Strengthen Indiana Plan' in Sept. of 2010. Unlike many political pledges, everything that was promised in 2010 was successfully delivered through legislative action this year.
"This was a session unlike any other. I am proud of the vast amount of work that has been accomplished for the people of Indiana," said Rep. Bob Morris (R-Fort Wayne). "We have created a balanced budget with no tax increases, provided better options for Indiana students and created a climate for economic growth this session. I am proud of the work we accomplished for Hoosier families."
Protecting Hoosier Taxpayers
House Republicans have repeatedly pledged to enact a responsible state budget which meets our critical needs with no tax increases. They cited in the past that with a fiscally sound budget comes predictability for both Hoosier taxpayers and Hoosier businesses. Since having made that announcement, Republicans were able to pass a fiscally responsible budget that does not raise taxes and retains adequate reserves to protect Hoosier taxpayers. Indiana now has an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, which is below the national average. The state is continuing to attract jobs through a predictable tax environment.
In a rare announcement this session Speaker Bosma, Senator Long and Governor Daniels jointly announced that an additional $150 million will be directed to K-12 education. This announcement came after an updated revenue forecast showed that the state will receive more than what was projected under prior forecasts. The increased revenues in addition to prudent reserve balances prove that the disciplined financial efforts by Republicans in the General Assembly and the Governor are paying off for the State of Indiana.
Promoting Hoosier Job Creation
The Strengthen Indiana Plan focused on key elements that promote job creation and incentivizes employers to grow and relocate to Indiana. Start-up capital for budding businesses has now been made more accessible by enhancing the Venture Capital Investment tax credit.
House Republicans provided tax incentives to help revitalize hard hit communities that have empty factories and warehouses sitting idle.
In addition to economic incentives, House Republicans also made it easier for business to start up through legislation that will create a 'one-stop-shop', cutting the unnecessary red tape which will make creating a business more accessible to future employers. While other states have increased taxes on employers House Republicans joined the Governor and Senate Republicans driving down the corporate income tax.
Expanding Education Opportunities
In September House Republicans pledged to give families more choices for their children's education regardless of income or zip code. They have fulfilled their promise by expanding educational opportunities for Hoosier families, especially those of limited means.
Charter Schools were first authorized in Indiana in 2001. Now through the Charter School Bill, these public schools will be able to expand without obstacles and provide innovative options to public school students. House Republicans also moved legislation to reward high performing teachers with merit pay.
Legislation allowing school choice scholarships will provide families, who do not have the financial means, a scholarship to pay the cost of tuition and fees at a public or private school that best meets their student's needs.
In the school funding formula, House Republicans demonstrated their commitment to education by focusing every additional dollar on the classroom. The school funding formula will now have dollars following the child into the classroom, immediately - not waiting two or three years for dollars to follow the child.
Standing Up to Washington D.C.
House Republicans passed legislation stating that Hoosiers will not have to comply with the individual mandate to purchase insurance under the Federal Healthcare law and passed Senate Bill 461, which bans state agencies from implementing or preparing to implement the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"This session has been challenging, perhaps more so than any session in memory. Change is never easy - this is no less true for legislative bodies. We have made landmark legislative decisions that will positively affect issues our state has faced so our children and their children will have a better future here in Indiana. I can proudly say that House Republicans have fulfilled their promises and enacted legislation that will significantly strengthen Indiana," said Speaker Bosma.