Governor Eric Holcomb has unveiled his legislative and administrative priorities ahead of the 2019 Indiana General Assembly. The governor says his Next Level Agenda continues an ongoing focus on jobs, economic growth, health, infrastructure and government service. During a presentation Thursday, the governor also revealed his Next Level Trails program, which aims to provide $90 million in grants for new hiking, biking and riding trails throughout the state.
Alongside Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch, Holcomb detailed the five pillars of his agenda:
- Cultivate a strong and diverse economy: To continue strengthening our economy, Gov. Holcomb’s 2019 agenda focuses on approving an eighth straight balanced budget as well as modernizing economic development tools to increase competitiveness, economic diversity and flexibility.
- Maintain and build the state’s infrastructure: Gov. Holcomb’s $1 billion Next Level Connections program will expand broadband services in rural Indiana, grow the state’s systems of trails, create more nonstop international flights and move up the completion of major highway projects.
- Develop a 21st Century skilled and ready workforce: The 2019 agenda is designed to ensure all Hoosiers have the tools they need to find meaningful work and careers. To accomplish this goal, Gov. Holcomb’s priorities include expanding the Next Level Jobs initiative, developing a strategy to make Indiana teacher salaries competitive with surrounding states, and helping more high school students earn postsecondary credentials before they graduate.
- Public health and the drug epidemic: For the state’s economic development, education and workforce programs to continue to be successful, the state must do all it can to help Hoosier families live healthier lives. Gov. Holcomb’s 2019 agenda calls for the adoption of the recommendations in the school safety report and the implementation of the Department of Child Services reform recommendations. The state will continue to work toward becoming the best state in the Midwest for infant mortality by 2024 by establishing an obstetric navigator program in areas with the highest infant mortality rates and requiring verbal screening to assess substance-use disorder in pregnancy. Additionally, Gov. Holcomb will remain focused on fighting the drug epidemic with expanded recovery housing and further development of Family Recovery Courts.
- Deliver great government service: Gov. Holcomb’s 2019 agenda calls for continuing to modernize state government to better serve citizens and businesses. This includes passing bias crimes legislation as well as using more technology to enable better customer service.
"This agenda remains focused on what will make us stronger, with practical and people-centered solutions," Holcomb said in a news release. "I look forward to working with Hoosiers, lawmakers and other stakeholders as we team up to achieve these priorities."
You can see more from Holcomb’s agenda in the document below or by clicking here.
The governor’s Next Level Trails program is part of the $1 billion Next Level Connections infrastructure initiative announced in September. Billed as the largest infusion of trail funding in state history, the program will provide $70 million for regional projects and $20 million for local projects.
The funding will be awarded in rounds until all of the money has been allocated. The application period for the first round will run from January 1 to February 15 and governmental units as well as 501(c)(3) nonprofits will be eligible to apply.
"By linking communities, we will make a serious investment in connectivity and quality of life," said Holcomb. "Next Level Trails’ strong focus on partnerships will drive collaboration among neighboring cities, towns and counties, as well as fill gaps among existing trails to create a larger network for more Hoosiers to enjoy the great outdoors."
You can learn more about the Next Level Trails program by clicking here.