An assistant professor of political science at the University of Indianapolis expects a "safe, calm" State of the State address this evening from Governor Mike Pence. Laura Merrifield Albright says infrastructure and education will likely be the focuses of the speech. She does not expect the governor to bring up a potential expansion of Indiana’s civil rights law to include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity, saying instead he will likely spotlight positive developments over the last three years. Inside INdiana Business Host Gerry Dick (@GerryDick) will be in one of tonight’s "Tweet Seats," providing live reaction to the address.
Albright says the civil rights debate is, for now, a legislative issue, and must go through the Indiana House and Senate before reaching Pence’s desk. She adds, heading into November’s election, Pence likely is hoping for a "quiet, productive" legislative session.
Pence last week unveiled his 2016 legislative agenda, headlined by the 21st Century Crossroads program. The initiative would make $1 billion in new state road funding available over the next four years, he says, without raising taxes. He is also backing a bill that would allocate $418 million in Local Option Income Tax reserves to local governments for road and bridge projects.
Albright believes the governor will also bring up the continued call to drop the ISTEP+ exam in favor of another assessment. Legislation making its way through the General Assembly that would hold schools and teachers harmless for the 2014-2015 ISTEP+ scores, which were based on new academic standards. Leaders from both parties, including Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, are backing the push to move on from ISTEP+.
Pence will speak at 7:00 p.m. before a joint session of the Indiana General Assembly in the House Chamber in Indianapolis.
Albright says this year’s address is especially important for Pence heading into November’s election.