EDITORIAL: Paving the way for Hoosier jobs

2013-01-15T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Paving the way for Hoosier jobs nwitimes.com
January 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

New Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has hit the ground running, addressing key economic development issues on his first day in office. That's a good start.

A moratorium on additional business regulations was one of the first executive orders Pence signed. The governor excluded new regulations that cut existing red tape or that create jobs, reduce state spending or address emergency, health or safety issues. The Office of Management and Budget has been tasked with reviewing the costs and benefits of the state's regulations.

Another executive order set a goal of purchasing at least 3 percent of state goods from companies owned by veterans.

Pence also split the the Office of Energy and Defense Development into separate agencies, focusing on a comprehensive energy plan for Indiana and on developing the state's defense assets and industries, respectively. Each has important economic development implications.

"This is our time to shine," Pence said in his inaugural address. 

"We can put Hoosiers back to work and make Indiana first — first in job creation, first in education and first in quality of life," Pence said.

One of Pence's campaign promises was to address the state's transportation infrastructure needs as one of his first acts. Pence said he would set up a blue ribbon panel to look not just at what needs to be done, but also how to fund it.

That is an urgent task.

Last Tuesday, crews in East Chicago dismantled the final remains of the Cline Avenue bridge, a vital artery connecting Chicago and Northwest Indiana. There has been much talk of a private company replacing the free route with a toll bridge, but only the demolition has been completed, not a contract to pave the way to a replacement structure.

Remember also that the gas tax is not keeping pace with demand for spending as vehicles become more fuel efficient and drivers travel less. Making matters worse is the switch to alternative fuels that aren't taxed, meaning those vehicles don't pay their fair share for the wear and tear on the state's roads.

Rebuilding roads — and, in the case of the Illiana Expressway, building new highways — is a sure-fire job creator that improves the quality of life in Indiana.

Pence has a lot on his plate, but putting this panel in place must happen quickly so the group's important work can begin.

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