Working together to strengthen Indiana

Posted by: Kathryn Frakes  | Friday, January 16, 2015

Working together to strengthen Indiana

With the first two weeks of the legislative session complete, things are off to an exciting start. I always enjoy reconnecting with colleagues, meeting new members of our team; however, the thing I look forward to most each session is the positive impact and difference I can make for Hoosiers in southwest Indiana.

Working towards this goal, in October, the House Republicans outlined our legislative agenda which focuses on strengthening Indiana in four key areas: the budget, education, ethics reform and public safety. Since our budget impacts nearly every aspect of the state, the most important task this session is to pass an honestly balanced budget that does not increase taxes on Hoosier families. We must also maintain healthy reserves, in case another economic crisis occurs, and secure a strong structural surplus.

Recently, the governor released his recommended budget to the state’s Budget Committee. I was pleased to see that many of the goals included in his proposal aligned with our agenda, such as addressing infant mortality and providing more support to new and expectant mothers. More specifically, his proposal includes a provision to allocate $2.5 million for the Indiana State Department of Health to create a website and a mobile device application to increase awareness of programs and services for at risk mothers.

Another main focus, actually the largest portion of the proposed budget, would go towards Indiana’s education system. The recommendation is to increase education funding over the next two years by $200 million. Our community is filled with some of the best and brightest teachers in the state, and we will continue to work towards strengthening our education system for students as well as educators.

While the budget still has a long journey before a final version is crafted, voted on and passed, it is apparent that this session is about improving the quality of education in our state and funding is large part of that. We have an incredible bipartisan group of lawmakers that is tasked with listening to testimony from Hoosiers, industry experts and state agencies, to craft the budget. They will work hard to debate, discuss and come up with a final version that my colleagues and I will have the opportunity to vote on.

My pledge is to ensure that we live within our means while making strategic investments in our state’s future, especially in education. Ultimately, I need your input to guide my decision making when it comes time to vote on the budget, so I encourage you to contact me with your thoughts and opinions by calling my office at 317-232-9815 or emailing h74@iga.in.gov.

Our economy continues to grow but much more work is needed to support job creation and financial security for future generations. I look forward to working with my colleagues this session to pass an honestly balanced budget, as well as move other legislation forward, that will improve our community.

-30-