Decision 2012 questionnaire: Mike Pence - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Decision 2012 questionnaire: Mike Pence

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WTHR.com asked the three candidates for Indiana governor to answer the following questions. Republican Mike Pence answers are as follows:
 

Your priorities

In your first term, what would be your big area of reform and why?

I will build on the successes of the past eight years and seek to make Indiana the state that works. We will promote private sector job growth, develop world-class schools, protect taxpayers and support Hoosier families. We will focus our strategies on the following goals and measure our progress: 1) increase private sector employment; 2) attracting new investment; 3) increase the math and reading skills of elementary students; 4) increase graduation rates; 5) improve the quality of the Hoosier workforce; 6) improve the health, safety and well being of Hoosier families, especially children.

Jobs

With job creation as a top priority in this election, what are your specific ideas to generate jobs in our state?

Jobs are priority number one. Should I be fortunate enough to have Hoosiers elect me their next Governor, everything we plan to do will be focused on strengthening private sector job growth. To achieve the levels of growth Indiana deserves, we need both more high-quality jobs and more Hoosiers ready to fill them. For this reason, I have called for a moratorium on all new regulations and have promised to launch a new review of existing regulations in order to free up businesses to create more jobs. Business owners tell me all the time that growing regulatory burdens are keeping them from hiring more people and expanding their operations. Together with a favorable tax climate and our new right-to-work status, a friendlier regulatory environment is critical to job creation.

To do a better job equipping Indiana's students for tomorrow's jobs, I have also announced that we will enhance career, technical and vocational pathways for our high school students. We will continue to emphasize the merits of a college education and demand excellence in our institutions of higher education, but many students will find that their pathway does not require college. Students with advanced certifications in STEM-related skills and training already earn more in their first jobs out of school than the average bachelor's recipient earns. There are plenty of rewarding, well-paying jobs for the taking for those with the right skills. Our job is to make sure our students get those skills.

It is also critical that we harness the abilities of our men and women in uniform who return to Indiana after serving their country. That's why I have promised to set a goal of establishing 3 percent of our state contracts with veteran-owned businesses. We aspire to make Indiana the best place in America for veterans to start and run their own businesses.

As we make jobs our number one priority, we will attract new levels of investment in our core industries, boost high school graduation rates, raise the proficiency in math and reading skills in our schools, and ensure that the quality of our workforce increases every year.

Economy

Gov. Daniels has said that Indiana is in better economic condition than most of our neighbors. Do you agree, and if you are elected, what policies will you pursue to strengthen Indiana's economy?

I believe Indiana is the best place to start and grow a business in the Midwest. We have recently led not only the Midwest but the entire nation in job growth. There is no doubt that Governor Daniels' relentless commitment to fiscal excellence and his tireless promotion of Indiana outside of the state (and country) have strengthened our economy and made us the envy of our neighbors.

There is, however, much more to do. Too many Hoosiers are unemployed. Too many have gone to school only to be under-prepared for today's jobs. Despite our job growth, our businesses could and should be growing even faster.

To strengthen our economy, we need to attract new investment to our manufacturing, agriculture, life sciences, and logistics. These critical sectors of Indiana's economy hold enormous potential to create new jobs and spawn new technologies none of us has even thought of yet. I will work with business owners and CEOs to recruit new dollars to our state to grow these sectors of our economy. We need to maintain the fiscal discipline that has brought us a AAA rating, and I will work to ensure that our tax climate remains a magnet rather than a deterrent to new businesses and investment. And by reviewing old regulations and placing a hold on new ones, we will create the kind of climate that make government-weary business owners elsewhere move to Indiana.

Attracting and keeping business

What types of incentives do you believe will not only keep businesses in our state, but also attract new ones?

Maintaining a competitive tax, regulatory, and fiscal environment is our first order of business. We have a solid edge on our neighbors, but we can't stand still - already, we see some of our neighbors working hard to catch up. For this reason, I will continue to identify tax, regulatory, and fiscal reforms that make our state the best place to work, live, start a family, and start a business.

Our plan to enhance the vocational pathways for high school students will appeal to businesses looking for skilled workers, as will our determination to ensure that our recent education reforms produce one of the best K-12 educational systems in America.

We will also hunt down talent all across the country so that our businesses here and those thinking of relocating here will find in Indiana a place where the hardest workers and best ideas flourish. To do this, I'll work with CEOs and business owners to recruit their best suppliers and partners to the state. We will work with our universities to attract inventors and innovators whose ideas hold commercial promise. In sum, we will ensure that our favorable cost of living, skilled workforce, and friendly business environment give companies plenty of reasons to love Indiana.

Health care

How do you think the state could work to make sure all Hoosiers have access to affordable care (especially in light of the upcoming Supreme Court decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)?

The ACA should be repealed as it will only drive up costs in Indiana – patients and for taxpayers. We should have the maximum flexibility to do what's right for Hoosiers, like Governor Daniels did with the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP). We need to focus on promoting consumer choice and price transparency and increase the number of primary care physicians, especially in rural areas, so that all Hoosiers have a vested interest in controlling health care costs and having access to vital health care services.

Education and skills

What are your plans to help students cover the cost of higher education? How will you promote other options to students and families such as technical and vocational programs? What about unemployed workers who lack the necessary skills to find jobs?

There is a skills gap in the Indiana workforce. To make Indiana the state that works, we should start by making sure that every student has the opportunity to start on success. The time has come to make career, technical and vocational education a priority in every high school in Indiana.

For this reason, I've called for the creation of regional Indiana Works Councils (IWCs) to bring employers and educators together to design demand-driven career, technical and vocational curriculum to create job opportunities for high school graduates. We should aspire to have the best-educated and best-skilled high school graduates in the country. All honest work is honorable work, and we should honor that principle in our high schools in Indiana.

According to the Department of Education, in 2011 only 1 percent (1,010) of all high school graduates earned a Core40 with Technical Honors degree, and yet Indiana has the third highest percentage of high school graduates in our workforce. To improve the quality of our workforce, it's clear that we need to improve the quality of our high school graduates.

The path to success does not lead through college for all students. Every student deserves the opportunity for success. Many certifications and associate degrees pay higher salaries than the average bachelor's degree. While the median earnings of a worker with a bachelor's degree are $36,662, the median earnings for a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related certificate are $45,554 and $51,737 for a STEM related associate degree. Putting high school students on a pathway toward earning these degrees will significantly increase their earnings potential.

By dramatically increasing the number of technical honors degrees that our students earn each year, we can ensure that the value of a high school diploma means more in terms of higher salaries for our graduates and a better educated workforce for our Indiana businesses. I will continue to support the important K12 education reforms that the General Assembly has passed, to ensure that every Indiana student has the right and opportunity to access quality schools. Finally, I will focus on improving the standing of Indiana's colleges and universities in terms of on time degree completion to ensure that a college degree is affordable and attainment for our high school graduates.

Social issues

What social issues do you do champion the most and if elected, how rigorously will you pursue these types of issues in our state?

Our word "economy" comes from the Greek word for the family, or household. I have always believed that the family is the central unit of our economic life. When it breaks down, economic opportunity is almost always lost, both for those involved and in society more generally. If elected, I will do all I can to promote and defend the right of every child to grow up with a mom and a dad. It's clear that children who are raised in intact homes enjoy economic, social, academic, health and emotional benefits that other children do not. Simply put, if we care about the well-being of children, we have to care about marriage and stable families.

Major Moves

What are your thoughts on Mitch Daniels' Major Moves Deal, and do you think Hoosiers will benefit from it in the future?

Major Moves was an extraordinary opportunity for Indiana to make unprecedented levels of investment in infrastructure. In the seven years since the toll road was leased, Indiana has invested billions in road and bridge projects and delivered on decades of promises to build hundreds of road projects that serve as the economic backbone in the Crossroads of America. Most importantly, while other states struggle to maintain decaying roads and bridges, Indiana is investing in new infrastructure without raising taxes or borrowing from future generations.

We know that Major Moves was never intended to be a permanent solution to our state's infrastructure needs. As we work to finish the important road projects that Major Moves promised, we need to plan for the infrastructure needs of the next generation. As we look at the next phase of investment, projects should be prioritized based on their economic impact and the availability of alternative funding, such as public-private partnerships, so we can deliver needed infrastructure projects within the boundaries of a balanced budget.

Major Moves was a good start; it allowed Indiana to catch up on projects that had been on the books for decades. It's the job of the next administration to make sure those investments deliver great things for Hoosiers.

"Right to work"

How do you mend relationships with between the two parties in the legislature and with unions operating in Indiana?

It's important that all of us who care about growing Indiana's economy and creating good, high-quality jobs work together toward a common vision. We need to aspire together toward being the kind of state we all know we can be. I will ensure that are all regularly talking and working to keep Indiana workers first. Everything unions, businesses, and politicians should be doing is what is in the best interest of our workers. Hoosiers need to be free to develop their skills and interests and to have options for employment so they can realize their hopes and ambitions. During every policy debate and every budget cycle, we will work hard to remind ourselves, both parties, the unions and employers of this essential priority.

Tax cuts

What tax cuts would you propose to save Hoosier families money and how would you recover that revenue to the state?

Every Hoosier should be grateful for the fiscal stewardship of Governor Daniels. His leadership has left the state with more than $2 billion in reserves and a $500 million structural surplus in the state budget. He has instilled a culture of performance management in state agencies, reduced government debt, built our reserves and promoted transparency in government funds. All this is reflected in the fact that Indiana has a top credit rating from all three major credit rating agencies.

We can never forget the fiscal situation that Governor Daniels inherited in 2005. The state had a structural deficit of $820 million. Our universities and local governments, including schools, were owed over $700 million by the state due to payment delays. Our reserves were functionally non-existent, equaling only 0.2 percent of operating revenue in FY2005. State government agencies and programs were not consistently measuring their results. Finally and unsurprisingly given the fiscal mess that Indiana was in, the state had seen its credit rating lowered twice between 2002 and 2004.

To make Indiana the state that works, we must reject the practices of borrowing, taxing and spending that left Indiana broke before Governor Daniels took office, and embrace fiscal discipline, living within our means, and performance-based budgeting and management, and return the fruits of these efforts to the taxpayers who earned the money in the first place.

That's why I have called for a 10 percent, across the board tax cut in our individual income tax rate and further strengthening of our state reserves. We will use our budget surplus to grow the economy, not the government, and to strengthen the fiscal health of the state.

Environment

What are your plans to maintain or improve the quality of Indiana's air, water and land?

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has taken important steps toward improving the quality of our water, but more work remains. Efforts are already underway to inventory Indiana's polluted waterways. My administration will complete that inventory and work with stakeholders across the state to develop a plan to significantly improve the quality of Indiana's water resources.

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