Gov. Holcomb hopes to make Indiana ‘envy of others’

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announces his agenda for the upcoming legislature at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on Nov. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gov. Eric Holcomb said his NextLevel 2018 plan will make Indiana “the envy of others.”

His 2018 agenda was announced Wednesday at the Statehouse with hundreds of people in attendance. Holcomb said the plan hones in on building up Indiana’s workforce from the local level on up to ultimately fill some 92,000 in-demand, high-paying jobs.

“We’re turning this thing on its head. We’re inverting it to where I think it’ll be a much more efficient use of tax dollars going into programs that work,” the governor said.

Part of a roughly $31 billion biennial budget that passed last year, this agenda is more of a specific outline of programs the governor is starting or continuing right down to where you live.

Holcomb said his plan has five pillars: a diverse economy, the state’s infrastructure, a skilled workforce, tackling the state’s drug epidemic and government services.

Government services, such creating a new parent policy for state employees, will most likely include paid time off.

“A diverse state economy” includes attracting veterans to Indiana after their service, attracting new talent and authorizing the testing and operation of autonomous or driverless vehicles on Indiana roads.

“A skilled workforce” includes giving your communities the money and flexibility to create work training and education programs that fit.

“We’ll require every school, K-12, to offer computer science courses and offer teachers professional development in computer science. We’ll create career pathways for high school juniors and seniors,” Holcomb said.

The governor said he also is focusing on infrastructure and looking into a fourth seaport.

Holcomb said he wants to tackle the drug epidemic by establishing a felony charge for drug-induced homicides and a felony murder charge for people who make underground drugs that wind up in a drug-induced death.

Holcomb said they’ll be keeping a close eye on how all the programs work.

“We will be judged by our actions. We’ll be measuring what is working, and what is not working,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said, “We will work to provide every Hoosier with the opportunity to go to the next level with quality of life and quality of place.”

Indiana House Speaker Brian C. Bosma, a Republican from Indianapolis, said, “Indiana’s strong economy continues to pay dividends through record job creation and low unemployment. To maintain this momentum, and to continue to attract employers in record numbers, it’s clear we have to strengthen our workforce pipeline. The governor has put forth a bold agenda, and we look forward to working with him on workforce and other critical issues facing our state and finding the best solutions for all Hoosiers.”

About the governor including education in the 2018 agenda, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said, “We are happy to be a part of Governor Holcomb’s education efforts, and any efforts that promise to bring more success to students is something we will stand behind.”

“We see evidence everyday of Indiana’s economic and job accomplishments,” said Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “This agenda – particularly clarifying software-as-a-service (SaaS) tax treatment, increased management of our water resources, accelerating efforts on autonomous vehicles and expanding STEM opportunities through increased computer science education – properly looks toward the future and will help ensure those successes continue.”

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem, David Long, a Republican from Fort Wayne, also released a statement about today’s announcement. He said, “I applaud the governor for bringing an aggressive and well-thought-out agenda to the table. The Senate continues to believe that workforce development is a critical issue for our state, and the governor’s agenda reflects that priority. Senate Republicans will be announcing our own agenda prior to session, and we look forward to working with the governor and our colleagues in the House of Representatives to continue to improve the lives of all Hoosiers.”