State legislative leaders are using today’s Organization Day to set the tone for what promises to be an eventful 2017 General Assembly. Republicans will again have super-majorities in the House and Senate in a budget-writing session that will also see Republican Eric Holcomb take the helm of the state as governor. Democrats and Republicans will have differing views on what the top issues will be, but in interviews with Inside INdiana Business, both House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-88) and Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-25) came to common ground on education.
Bosma expects discussions on social matters to come up, but says "we’re not going to allow these issues to become a distraction from the big ticket items." He says funding road and bridge infrastructure work throughout the state with a balanced "within our means" budget will be key to maintaining Indiana’s billing as The Crossroads of America. "We’re looking for a long-term, sustainable road and bridge program that will take Indiana to the next level." He says pre-kindergarten and other education funding as well as work force development initiatives will be in focus for GOP legislators.
Lanane believes the state’s civil rights laws needs to be amended to include protections for LGBT Hoosiers, but says state-funded pre-kindergarten is "right at the top of the list." He says expanding early childhood education statewide has been studied, the positive results are in, and the General Assembly should be in implementation mode at this point. Lanane also says the General Assembly should focus more funding on community mental health initiatives, take more action on redistricting and push to raise the state’s minimum wage.