News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Flashpoint

May 15, 2011

FLASHPOINT: Trailblazing session strengthens Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — With this year’s session of the 117th General Assembly in the rear view mirror, it’s time to reflect on how our efforts will impact our most important asset: Indiana’s future.  Despite historic challenges, I believe this session of the General Assembly will be viewed in years to come as one of the most progressive and accomplished legislative efforts in generations.  Hoosiers have much to be thankful for.

Last September, Republican candidates for the House announced our “Strengthen Indiana Plan” which focused on fiscal integrity, job creation, expanding education opportunities and standing up to an overreaching federal government.  Republicans delivered on each of these key initiatives, and much more. 

We pledged to adopt an honestly balanced budget, without the strings and gimmicks of the past, and without a tax increase on Hoosier families or employers.  At midnight on April 29, we delivered.

The new budget not only lives within our state’s means, we exercised the discipline necessary to ensure healthy reserves at the end of each of the next two fiscal years, a position no other state in the nation can claim. We funded critical needs in public safety, care for the indigent and public education at levels exceeding the last two years, and successfully expanded the state’s full-day kindergarten grant program to reach every unfunded school and student in the state. 

We focused education dollars on students rather than institutions, allowing dollars to follow transferring students to their new classroom, and addressed the disparate funding of students in rural, suburban and inner city schools. We instituted locally controlled evaluations for every teacher, allowing schools to recognize, reward and retain the best educators regardless of how long they have been in the classroom.

We opened opportunities for more families, especially those of modest means, to select the school that is best for their child regardless of their income or neighborhood.  The expansion of public charter schools and the creation of a new education choice scholarship will allow families with fewer resources to have the same opportunities their wealthy neighbors already enjoy.

To help Indiana lead the nation in job creation efforts, we balanced the bankrupt unemployment compensation system without bankrupting Hoosier employers; gave local units of government new tools to attract new and expanding employers; and trimmed the corporate tax bill for 22,000 Hoosier employers (including 16,000 small businesses) to help our economy recover faster than our neighbors.

We even did what some said we couldn’t — we adopted fair, common sense legislative and congressional maps on a bipartisan basis, bringing an end to a generation of gerrymandering by our colleagues.

Yes, some will say we “wasted time” on social issues and immigration reform, but these issues impact Hoosiers as well, and the common sense measures we adopted did not distract from our main purpose — moving Indiana dramatically forward. Even a record-breaking Democrat walkout in Urbana didn’t stop us from reaching our goals.

Fiscal integrity, education opportunity and job creation effort is what we promised — and what we delivered. While our neighbors struggle to borrow and tax their way to prosperity, Hoosier Republicans stood firm. Hoosier taxpayers, school children, every day workers and our future will be the beneficiaries.

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