Reaction is streaming in following Governor Eric Holcomb’s first State of the State Address. During Tuesday’s presentation, Holcomb discussed current successes in the business community such as the state’s growing technology scene and said the administration will "relentlessly" look for ways to improve and build upon the economic climate. He tempered the optimism with a message that "too many Hoosiers are not properly prepared for the jobs of the future" such as scientists, engineers and skilled tradespeople. Holcomb reiterated his objectives that center on five "pillars," including economic diversity, longterm infrastructure funding and developing the next generation work force.
In a statement, Indiana House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-9) said some of Holcomb’s plans seem to be out of alignment with Republicans in the General Assembly. "While Republicans in the Legislature are calling for new taxes on Hoosier motorists, it seems our governor is not yet ready to embrace their plan," said Pelath. "The success of any program as massive as this depends on the governor’s ability to sell it to Hoosiers. From what we have seen tonight, it does not appear he is ready to accept that role." Pelath says there a support for boosting work force training efforts, but calls Holcomb’s stance on pre-kindergarten expansion "too timid." Holcomb is calling for doubling the state’s investment into pre-k, but didn’t mention full, statewide expansion.
Holcomb’s "five pillars" of focus for the administration are:
- Cultivate a strong and diverse economy to ensure Indiana is a magnet for jobs.
- Fund a long-term roads and bridges plan.
- Develop a 21st century skilled and ready workforce.
- Attack the drug epidemic.
- Provide great government service.
Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar praised Holcomb’s approach, saying:
The Governor is really going for the trifecta – bettering the state, business community and quality of life of residents. That includes long-term road funding, pre-K expansion to reach more disadvantaged children, improving the health of Hoosiers and utilizing clean coal to help power our economy. The Indiana Chamber is pleased Gov. Holcomb is putting such a high priority on economic growth and job growth. We also applaud the Governor for acknowledging that taxes (or user fees) should be in the equation for the state’s long-term funding plan for roads and bridges. Ultimately, it will be a small price to pay for safer and better travels. We believe what the Governor has laid out is achievable this year. We are ready to work with him and the General Assembly to make his strong vision a reality.
Read a copy of Holcomb’s remarks, as prepared: