TERRE HAUTE —
Gov. Mike Pence ended his day in Terre Haute on Thursday by speaking to a large group of Republican Party faithful during the Lincoln Day dinner.
He was joined by his wife, Karen, and state officeholders Connie Lawson, secretary of state, and Richard Mourdock, state treasurer.
Also attending were 8th District Congressman Larry Bucshon and Indiana Republican Party Chairman Eric Holcomb.
“We’ve had a great day here in Vigo County,” Pence said as he spoke at the Meadows Banquet Center. “We just feel so at home in Terre Haute and West Central Indiana.”
When Pence recognized Mayor Duke Bennett, he joked, “I didn’t think mayors were supposed to be re-elected in Terre Haute. I thought there was like a law against it. And I sure didn’t think Republican mayors were supposed to be re-elected, especially by such a wide margin. But it’s because Duke Bennett is an extraordinary leader,” Pence said.
During his speech, Pence again made a strong pitch for his proposal to lower the personal income tax rate to Hoosiers through a permanent 10-percent cut.
Because of Indiana’s record surplus, the state can pass a balanced budget, increase funding for priorities “and still have more than enough to give every Hoosier an across-the-board permanent cut in income taxes,” Pence said.
He also addressed another priority, career and vocational education.
“Our schools need to work for all of our kids, regardless of where they start in life and regardless of where they want to start in life,” he said.
Pence said he was raised to believe that all honest work is honorable work.
“The reality is that in the last 30 years, our schools have drifted into a pattern where more often than not all of our kids are put into a pathway that is essentially a college preparatory education,” he said.
Yet the reality also is that throughout Indiana, including the Wabash Valley, there are many good-paying jobs available — yet they go unfilled because high school graduates and other adults don’t have the skills and background to fill them, Pence said.
While students should be encouraged to attend college, if they choose, “for any young person ready to get a job after high school rather than a degree, I think our high schools need to work for them, too,” he said.
In an interview after his speech, he said he is “very encouraged that we are getting overwhelming bipartisan support to make career and vocational education a priority.”
Vigo County is an example of a community where business and education have come together to promote career and vocational education, he said.
Throughout the state, he wants business people and educators working together on a regional basis to develop career pathways that will lead to jobs in the community.
While he’s proposed some funding for vocational education, he believes the first step is getting businesses and educators together.
“I’m convinced that while there will be a role for the state of Indiana to play in education spending, I’m convinced businesses are ready, willing and able to be more effective partners with our local high schools when we will better connect that career education in high school with the businesses that are in that community,” Pence said.
Asked about the high cost of equipment and technology in some of the career-technical programs, he said, “We want to encourage businesses to be retiring equipment to our high schools, donating it to our high schools,” and also helping to develop curriculum to better prepare students for the jobs that are out there.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org.