RUSHVILLE — On Nov. 20, the 118th General Assembly will gather at the Statehouse for “Organization Day,” ceremonially marking the start of the next legislative session. As a part-time legislature, our real work will begin on Jan. 7 and last through April 29. During this time, we’ll conduct legislative hearings, review proposals, debate initiatives and vote on new laws.
A main focus during the upcoming session will be approving Indiana’s next two-year budget, which helps fund vital state services like K-12 education, public safety and health care. My colleagues and I have worked hard to maintain balanced budgets that pay for these essential services despite a difficult economy. In fact, we’ve had four consecutive balanced budgets while also managing to set aside reserve funds that will help protect Indiana from possible future economic downturns. It will be important to again support an honestly balanced budget that spends within our means and maintains these reserves.
At the same time, it’s just as important to support our struggling Hoosier families. Yes, Indiana has reserves in place and the economy seems to be on the mend. However, we still need to encourage low-tax, pro-job policies that will put people in our communities back to work. That’s why I will continue to say “no” to any new state taxes. A low-tax environment promotes employer expansion and new economic opportunity.
Additionally, I will work to help equip our students with the skills needed to successfully compete in the workforce. Many feel there should be a stronger emphasis in our schools on vocational and technical education as an alternative to attending college. Lawmakers will consider increasing funds to support these programs and expand opportunities for students. Additionally, we’ll discuss how to better provide our teachers with the financial resources and support they need to build on Indiana’s record-best ISTEP+ scores and graduation rates.