INDIANAPOLIS | With his tax cuts, works councils and career council all failing to reduce Indiana's 8.4 percent unemployment rate, Gov. Mike Pence decided Friday to take direct action to put at least a few Hoosiers to work.
He created a new state agency to oversee many of the other agencies that are responsible for creating Hoosier jobs.
The new Center for Education and Career Innovation will, according to the Republican governor, align career and workforce training efforts by improving collaboration among public, private and nonprofit schools and employers; give teachers more tools and resources to promote freedom in the classroom; and hold individuals and organizations accountable for progress.
"By creating a focal point for bringing together and deploying critical resources, the agency will deliver real change in Indiana, benefiting Hoosier families, employers and taxpayers, and, ultimately, impacting every Hoosier across the state," Pence said.
Moments after Pence began his announcement of the new agency, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and the president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce issued statements announcing their wholehearted support.
"The ultimate responsibility for improving our education and workforce training systems rests with our state's chief executive," said Kevin Brinegar, of the chamber. "It will benefit the state to have multiple policy bodies that previously have worked independently of each other now coordinated through one office."
Left out of the loop, however, was Glenda Ritz, the Democratic state superintendent of public instruction.
Ritz's spokesman, Daniel Altman, said he can't believe the governor moved forward with an education initiative without consulting the state's schools chief.
"Partnerships require communication," Altman said. "Unfortunately, Superintendent Ritz learned about the creation of this new agency through news reports rather than from Gov. Pence."
Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, questioned why Pence — who claims to be a "small government" Republican — is layering more bureaucracy.
"Creating another government agency does nothing to address the state's unemployment and surely does nothing to improve educational outcomes for Hoosier students," Lanane said.