ELKHART – Gov. Mike Pence delivered the annual State of the State address Tuesday, Jan. 14, touching on the topics of job growth, education, the business personal property tax, improving basic infrastructure and health care.
Here are the topics included in and highlights of Pence's speech:
JOB GROWTH AND UNEMPLOYMENT
– Pence said Indiana has become a national leader in job growth. Predictably, he attributed the growth to the tax cut he pushed for, which is the largest in the state's history.
– In November, one out of every eight jobs created in the country were created in Indiana, Pence said. Last year, more than 47,500 new private sector jobs were created.
– Pence said the unemployment rate has dropped 1.3 percentage points since last year, moving from 8.6 percent to 7.3 percent. He said the unemployment rate is still too high, though.
– Indiana has the fifth fastest private sector job growth rate in the country, Pence said.
BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX
– As part of his agenda for the coming year, Gov. Pence hopes to phase out the business personal property tax. He said the tax is bad for the state because it discourages businesses to invest. "Taxing equipment and technology in a state that leads the nation in making and creating things just doesn't make sense," Pence said.
– Pence said that with states like Ohio, Illinois and Michigan phasing out their business personal property taxes, Indiana should follow suit to remain competitive.
INFRASTRUCTURE AND AGRICULTURE
– "Because roads mean jobs, we need to release $400 million for the next era of highway expansion," Pence said.
– Pence said Indiana needs to focus on improving its soil productivity, which factors into farmers' property taxes.
– "Because Indiana's regional cities are vital to our state's economic development, we need public and private investment to improve quality of life," Pence said.
– "The sad truth is that traditional Medicaid is not just broke, it is broken," Pence said.
– Pence said he thinks the Healthy Indiana Plan, a health insurance program for uninsured adult Hoosiers, is the answer to Medicaid's failures and called for its expansion.
– "I will oppose any expansion of our health insurance system that condemns vulnerable Hoosiers to substandard health care or threatens the fiscal health of our state," Pence said.
– Pence referenced a few successes in Indiana's education system during the past year, including the state's fourth-grade reading proficiency being the highest its ever been, 500 public schools improving a full letter grade or more in rankings and the rapid growth of Choice Scholarships, a voucher program that helps qualified students with tuition costs at participating schools.
– The state is working to with local businesses develop curricula that would help students who want to pursue vocational or technical careers. "While anyone who wants to go to college should be encouraged to go, there are a lot of good jobs in Indiana that don't require a college degree," he said. "To ensure we succeed, I am proposing legislation that will conduct an in-depth assessment of how our career and technical education dollars are being spent," Pence said.
– Pence referred to Indiana's "time-out" from federal Common Core standards, saying the state is capable of writing its own educational standards.
– Pence said he believes it's time for a voluntary, voucher-based program that will help Indiana's low-income children attend preschool. The program would allow parents to choose which preschool to send their children to.
– Parents would also have more schooling choices if the state expanded the availability of public charter schools, Pence said. "We need to level the playing field and allow charter schools to manage their budgets with the same flexibility as traditional public schools," he said.
– Pence encouraged the creation of a "teacher innovation fund" that would encourage creative, passionate teachers to do so in new, effective ways.
– Pence said while he personally supports "traditional marriage," he thinks the people of Indiana must decide what to do about same-sex marriage in the state.
– "Reasonable people can differ, and there are good people on both sides of this debate. No one, on either side, deserves to be disparaged or maligned because of who they are or what they believe…So let's have a debate worthy of our people with civility and respect," Pence said.
TAX DEDUCTIONS FOR DEPENDENTS
– The governor said tax deductions for dependents in Indiana haven't increased in 36 years, even though the cost of living has increased 3.6 times. Pence called for an end to this "hidden tax increase on working families."
– Pence wants to better the adoption system in Indiana. He said the state should improve the way it places children in adoptive homes and supports adoptive parents.
To read Pence's entire State of the State address, click here.
This word cloud, powered by Wordle, shows what the speech's hot topics were.