Pence Doubles Down on Education, Work Force

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Governor Mike Pence used his State of the State address Tuesday to continue his push for an "education session" at the Indiana General Assembly. He highlighted his two-year budget proposal, which includes increasing K-12 funding by more than $200 million and $20 million for the state's pre-K pilot program. Pence also said the state must make career and vocational education "a priority in every high school again." The governor asked that $20 million be targeted to technical education in Hoosier high schools. Our partners at WTHR-TV in Indianapolis have posted the address in its entirety.

Transcript of Governor Mike Pence's State of The State address

Speaker Bosma, President Pro Tem Long, Lt. Governor Ellspermann, Senator Lanane, Representative Pelath, members of the General Assembly, distinguished guests, my fellow Hoosiers.

Tonight, on the eve of our bicentennial year, I stand before you as your governor to proudly report that the state of our State has never been stronger. And, if we keep faith with the character of our people, together there is no limit to what we can accomplish in our third century.

Our state is on a roll. (And I’m not just talking about the Colts!)

Seriously, Indiana is blessed. We have the best state legislature in America.

Together we’ve made Indiana the fiscal envy of the country. We’ve balanced budgets, funded our priorities, maintained strong reserves, and still passed the largest state tax cut in Indiana history.

And here in the state that works, Hoosiers are going back to work.

Unemployment has fallen faster here than almost anywhere in America. When I was elected Governor, unemployment was over 8 percent. Today it’s 5.7 and falling.

We added more than 100,000 private sector jobs in the past two years, and we are on track to have more Hoosiers working than ever before.

And while we have maintained a strong balance sheet, we’ve also invested in education and building the roads of the future.

We’ve increased support for schools, approved the first-ever state funding for quality pre-K, and invested more than $800 million in new funding for roads.

The result?

Graduation rates are up. Test scores are up, the doors of our pre-K program are already open to disadvantaged kids, and Indiana now is home to the largest educational voucher program in America.

Tonight, there are 49 other governors across this country who wish they could be me!

But let’s be clear, our state has never been stronger not because of her government, but because of her people.

They just don’t come any better than Hoosiers: hardworking, patriotic, modest, and generous to those in need.

Everyone knows the story of Officer Perry Renn, a courageous police officer who squared his shoulders in the face of deadly force to protect our capital city, and paid with his life. What you may not know is the story of two little heroes—Jacen and Ben Troxell, ages eight and five, the sons of Officer Renn’s partner, who were inspired by that tragedy to raise money to outfit the Indianapolis Police Department with better body armor. Those two boys raised more than $20,000 and are with us here tonight. Join me in thanking Lynn Renn and our two young heroes for showing the courage and kindness that make Indiana great.

Nowhere is the character of our people more evident than in those who wear the uniform.

The evil that came to the streets of Paris last week may seem far removed, but the brutal murder of our own Peter Kassig, a courageous aid worker killed by ISIS terrorists, is a stark reminder that we are all part of a global war of civilization against barbarism.

Tonight, Hoosiers will be proud to know that on the front lines of that war are some 300 airmen with our 122nd Fighter Wing out of Fort Wayne—the largest deployment of the Indiana Air National Guard in the past ten years.

To them and their families, some of whom are with us tonight, we thank you for your service. You are in our prayers. Please join with me in showing our gratitude to all those who serve at home and abroad in these uncertain times.

More than thirty years ago, at this very podium, President Ronald Reagan said the federal government was “still operating on the outdated and arrogant assumption that the states can’t manage their own affairs.”

That day he predicted it would be states like ours that would come to America’s rescue. States like ours that would “offer the most creative solutions and most promising hopes for our nation.”

Well, Reagan was right.

At a time when public confidence in our federal government is at an all-time low, states have emerged as a source of inspiration on fiscal policy, economic growth, education and health care reform.

And Indiana is leading the way, proving every day that we can balance our budgets, run our schools, choose our health care and serve our people far better than “a little intellectual elite in a far distant capitol” ever could.

But to whom much is given, much will be required. Ladies and gentlemen, we have work to do.

Last week, I submitted my recommended budget to the General Assembly. It’s an honestly balanced budget that holds the line on spending, maintains strong reserves, and funds our priorities with no new debt.

Fiscal discipline has been the hallmark of the past decade of Indiana governance. Our balanced budgets have led to economic growth, lower tax rates and job creation.

Remarkably, Indiana is one of the few states in the country that does not have a balanced budget requirement in its constitution. It is a tribute to the public servants in this room that Indiana has adhered to that practice in recent years even though it is not required.

A balanced budget requirement in the Constitution will assure Hoosiers that today and tomorrow Indiana will spend wisely, protect our state from an economic downturn, and unlike Washington, D.C., we won’t bury our children and grandchildren under mountains of debt.

I commend Senator David Long for his leadership on a federal balanced budget amendment. I call on this General Assembly to begin the process of adding a balanced budget amendment to the Indiana Constitution in this session and send this historic reform to the people of Indiana.

Over the past two years we’ve made great progress cutting taxes. Now let’s simplify the tax code and prevent the rapid increase of property taxes on family farms.

Because low-cost energy is vital to our economy, we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy, including energy efficiency. But know this, Indiana is a pro-coal state, and we must continue to oppose the overreaching schemes of the EPA until we bring this war on coal to an end.

To remain the crossroads of America, let’s invest another $300 million in new funding for roads and give our cities and towns new resources to plan regional strategies for growth.

Balanced budgets and the right priorities are the starting point to improving our economy, but the key to unlocking the full potential of our state is not in her factories and her fields. It is in her classrooms.

Let’s agree here and now that this will be an education session dedicated to improving all our schools for all our kids.

Now, my philosophy of executive leadership is pretty simple; you set big goals, offer solutions, but stay open to other ideas about how to achieve them.

With that approach in mind, and with more than 100,000 kids in underperforming or failing schools, we must make it our aim to have 100,000 more students enrolled in high-quality schools by the year 2020.

To achieve this goal, we must fund excellence, expand choices, and ensure that education in Indiana works at the highest levels.

That’s why I proposed more state dollars for K-12 education than ever before, increasing tuition support by $200 million over the next two years.

And building on the historic first step we took last session, we will invest $10 million a year t