Gov.-elect Holcomb lays out legislative agenda; state Democrats respond

Gov.-elect Eric Holcomb lays out his legislative agenda during a press conference at the Statehouse on Jan. 5, 2017. (WISH photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) –The first week of the 2017 Indiana session was dominated by gas tax and fee increases, not by Democrats, but Republicans.

It was a theme at Governor-elect Eric Holcomb’s 2017 agenda rollout. It was a news conference he admitted felt surreal.

“I just woke up everyday, like you do, and face each day, and answer the call on the way,” Governor-elect Holcomb said. “It’s been the story of my life.”

Ten months after becoming lieutenant governor, he presented his first governor agenda. He called it his five pillar plan.

He wants to focus on jobs, buy investing $1 billion to make Indiana an innovation hub over the next ten years. He also wants to improve workforce readiness by changing state testing, and doing away with the state superintendent, and appointing a secretary of education.

The agenda includes a plan to tackle the drug crisis by creating a new Governor’s Office position to fight the epidemic. Next, the Republican wants to deliver great government service by modernizing the department of revenue computer system.

Lastly, he wants to create a 20-year road investment plan. “Now it’s time to take these next steps to get to the next level, if we want to,” Governor-elect Holcomb said.

It’s a plan similar to what house and senate Republicans rolled out this week. There is a common theme, increasing the price at the pump, and adding vehicle fees to fund roads.

On Wednesday, house Republicans proposed increasing the gas tax by 10 cents a gallon, $15 annual vehicle fee, and $150 annual electric vehicle fee. Thursday, Governor-elect Holcomb said all options are on the table.

“I envisioned as Republicans getting the job done as we have for the last 12 years, and we’ll find a way to do it,” Governor-elect Holcomb said. “The fact of the matter is, if we want new roads, if we want new maintenance, we’re going to have to find new revenue.”

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath agrees with most of Governor-elect Holcomb’s agenda.

“I had a hunch. I had a hunch,” State Rep. Pelath said. “It was clear from previous session. Speaker Bosma put all this forward, but he was going to have a hard time getting Mr. family, faith, and freedom to go along.”

Pelath said Republicans must sell the tax idea to Hoosiers and show results. It’s a challenge Governor-elect Holcomb is ready to take.

“That’s what keeps me going every single day and why I’m so excited, not just about the next four months, but about the next four years,” Governor-elect Holcomb said.

Governor-elect Holcomb will spend the next two weeks talking to lawmakers about his agenda. He will address Hoosiers again on his ideas in two weeks during his state of the state address.

After Holcomb announced his priorities for the upcoming legislative sessions, House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) released the following statement said in part:

“We look forward to working with Governor-elect Holcomb this session as we focus on our shared priorities, including fiscal integrity, passing a long-term road funding plan, responsibly expanding our pre-K program and growing Indiana’s economy through continued workforce training. I am also pleased to work together with him on legislation to make the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction an appointed position, with the goal of taking politics out of the process and ensuring consistency in education policy. Democrats and Republicans have supported this reform in the past, and I’ve personally advocated this change for many years.”

 

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