Gov. Pence pens end-of-year message
Gov. Mike Pence, Guest Writer
My Fellow Hoosiers,
As 2015 comes to a close and we look back on the year gone by, I’d like to take this opportunity to reflect upon what was a tremendous year in the life of our state.
With unemployment at its lowest rate since 2001 and more Hoosiers working than ever before in state history, Indiana has continued the economic growth that has become the hallmark of our state. In the last year, we have added thousands of jobs to our manufacturing base, the third most in the United States. In areas such as trade, transportation and utilities, we’ve added more than 20,000 new jobs, fifth best nationwide. Our economy is on a roll and, as we look toward 2016, I am confident that we will continue to build on the progress of this past year.
In 2015, we made historic investments in our workforce, kids and teachers, and we’ve also put a high priority on the health and safety of all Hoosiers.
The budget I signed into law this past spring commits historic levels of new funding for education, teacher performance bonuses, domestic violence and infant mortality prevention and more than doubles funding for our Hoosier veterans.
Hoosiers can be proud that, along with members of the Indiana General Assembly, we enacted the largest K-12 education funding increase in state history. Just as Indiana is a leader on education reform, our students are achieving great results in the classroom. Test scores and graduation rates are up, and the latest National Assessment for Educational Progress scores show Hoosier children outpacing national averages at every level. That is a credit to our dedicated teachers and the hard work of our kids.
We’ve also put a high priority on the infrastructure that has made Indiana the Crossroads of America.
Earlier this fall, I announced the 21st Century Crossroads plan to responsibly invest $1 billion in our roads and bridges. Our transportation infrastructure must be able to support the economic growth while protecting Hoosiers from new tax increases. Our plan, along with legislation that will free up additional funds for local transportation projects, will go a long way in ensuring that Indiana remains the Crossroads of America. I’ll pursue both proposals during the upcoming legislative session of the Indiana General Assembly.
We also know that the true measure of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable. Hoosiers have seen the devastating effects of drug abuse throughout our communities and, in response to this epidemic, I created the Governor’s Task Force on Drug Enforcement, Treatment and Prevention to combat the scourge of drug addiction in Indiana.
Based on the recommendations of the task force, my administration will pursue legislative action to increase penalties for the most serious drug dealers. But, for those struggling with the scourge of addiction, I believe our efforts with regard to treatment and prevention are of the utmost importance. In fact, my administration recently unveiled plans for a new state neuro-diagnostic and addiction treatment institute to improve the way we treat mental health issues in Indiana. The institute will serve as the centerpiece of our ongoing commitment to improve mental health and address the heartbreak of addiction that has beset far too many families in Indiana.
This year, we demonstrated that Indiana is a true innovator when it comes to delivering health care to our citizens. We expanded health care coverage to Hoosiers this past January through what we call the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 and, to date, more than 355,000 Hoosiers have enrolled. I am especially proud of the fact that Hoosiers in the lowest income brackets make up a majority of all HIP 2.0 enrollees. HIP now offers a Gateway to Work program, which connects Hoosiers to workforce training programs and potential employers. Voluntary programs like Gateway to Work just might offer the assistance some of our neighbors need in order to get back on their feet.
Looking forward to 2016, we’ll remain committed to strengthening Indiana’s economy. We’ll continue to implement the kind of policies that improve the lives of all Hoosiers and make this a state that attracts and keeps talent and investment. We’ll do so with an ear attuned to the issues that matter the most to Hoosiers. Our formula for success in 2015 will be the guide for continuing to make Indiana a great place to work, live and raise a family.
As we close the chapter of 2015 and enter our state’s bicentennial year, I wish every Hoosier a happy and prosperous new year.