Governor details agenda for Indiana in 2019

Noblesville parents on Holcomb Agenda
Holcomb plan

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb unveiled his Next Level Agenda for the 2019 Legislative session ahead. It includes five pillars, starting with the economy.

The balanced budget leaves a surplus of $1.8 billion dollars. He plans to expand broadband services in rural areas of the state, create more nonstop international flight opportunities in the state and move up the I69 completion date. School safety is also a priority for this governor. He praised the work FSSA is already doing in that area.

“They have been in community after community working with schools, letting them know what school resources are already available. What Indiana has proven is we will continue to increase funding for school resource officers but we also have to let people know what is out there right now, in many cases, are the mental health resources and we have to make that connection,” he said during a media availability following announcement of his proposals in Zionsville.

A citizens group called "Noblesville Stands Together" said members support Holcomb's ideas to improve mental health care and building security. But the group said it might not go far enough and wants a new law to "provide a criminal penalty for allowing a child to access a negligently stored firearm" and "close loopholes in Indiana's firearm background check system."

At the same time, the group wants to make it clear that it is not for banning guns.

The governor is also asking lawmakers to help increase pre-K enrollment and K-12 school funding.

One of the more contentious issues he will have to lead on will be on the hate crimes bill. Indiana is one of five states not to have a hate crimes law. Holcomb wants the state to act to put Indiana on the majority side of the ledger.

“I have said the employment policy we have sends the right message. Ensure that we get off the naughty list and on the nice list. If we want to ensure the rest of the world we are open to business, our policy is preferred,” he explained. Asked if it was more than just business he answered emphatically “It’s the right thing to do, the founding of our country, equal opportunity and access to a future that you determine. This gets at that, treating everyone fairly and equally. Our employment policy does that."

“This agenda remains focused on what will make us stronger, with practical and people-centered solutions,” Gov. Holcomb said. “I look forward to working with Hoosiers, lawmakers and other stakeholders as we team up to achieve these priorities.”

House Speaker Brian Bosma released a statement on the agenda. It says in part: “I look forward to working with Holcomb on our shared priorities ranging from strengthening our state’s workforce and booming economy to improving teacher pay and school safety policies.

Lawmakers will convene for the 2019 General Assembly early in January.

Here are the five pillars, as the governor calls them:

  1. Cultivate a strong and diverse economy

To continue strengthening our economy, Gov. Holcomb’s 2019 agenda focuses on approving an eighth straight balanced budget as well as modernizing economic development tools to increase competitiveness, economic diversity and flexibility.

  1. Maintain and build the state’s infrastructure

Gov. Holcomb’s $1 billion Next Level Connections program will expand broadband services in rural Indiana, grow the state’s systems of trails, create more nonstop international flights and move up the completion of major highway projects.

  1. Develop a 21st Century skilled and ready workforce

The 2019 agenda is designed to ensure all Hoosiers have the tools they need to find meaningful work and careers. To accomplish this goal, Gov. Holcomb’s priorities include expanding the Next Level Jobs initiative, developing a strategy to make Indiana teacher salaries competitive with surrounding states, and helping more high school students earn postsecondary credentials before they graduate.

  1. Public health and the drug epidemic

For the state’s economic development, education and workforce programs to continue to be successful, the state must do all it can to help Hoosier families live healthier lives. Gov. Holcomb’s 2019 agenda calls for the adoption of the recommendations in the school safety report and the implementation of the Department of Child Services reform recommendations. The state will continue to work toward becoming the best state in the Midwest for infant mortality by 2024 by establishing an obstetric navigator program in areas with the highest infant mortality rates and requiring verbal screening to assess substance-use disorder in pregnancy. Additionally, Gov. Holcomb will remain focused on fighting the drug epidemic with expanded recovery housing and further development of Family Recovery Courts.

  1. Deliver great government service

Gov. Holcomb’s 2019 agenda calls for continuing to modernize state government to better serve citizens and businesses. This includes passing bias crimes legislation as well as using more technology to enable better customer service.

Filed under: