For many Americans, today is a time of uncertainty. But while many of our sister states are struggling our state is poised for great things.
I believe Indiana is poised for greatness in large part because we have a skilled workforce that knows you can’t grow wealth if you don’t take pride in what you produce. I also believe that we are positioned to outrun our neighbors in the race to define America’s manufacturing future.
It won’t be easy, and we don’t harbor any illusions about the tough road ahead. Northwest Indiana suffers an unemployment rate more than a full percentage point higher than the state average, which already is unacceptably high. With more than 20 percent of our children living in poverty, it is clear that Indiana is not fully prepared to seize the opportunity before us.
We need to look beyond quick fixes and feel-good measures if we want to successfully repair what is broken in our economy. We need high-wage jobs in the industries of the future. And we need a workforce equipped for those jobs.
To meet our shared economic challenges head on, I proposed a jobs budget the day after I took office in January. Why do I call it a jobs budget?
For starters, it will free up more money for families and workers by lowering taxes by 10 percent for all of Indiana’s workforce and 92 percent of Indiana’s small businesses. And it will pump more than $500 million back into the economy each year. That means new investment and jobs.
To help small businesses grow faster, I signed a moratorium on new regulations my first day in office. It is not unusual for small businesses to spend tens of thousands of dollars annually complying with regulations. Our moratorium gives entrepreneurs in Indiana the confidence that they can take risks without the threat of new fees, delays and rules.
In addition, by holding the line on spending in our budget, Indiana will generate enough excess revenues to invest in our infrastructure. Our budget proposes $350 million for roads and bridges, which means jobs for heavily-trafficked Northwest Indiana.
Investing in the economy also means investing in our workforce. Our budget provides $18 million for workforce training and proposes to create regional Indiana Works Councils, inspired in part by the READY NWI regional workforce program here in Northwest Indiana. The IWCs will help determine what skills students need to fill the jobs that await them, sometimes just down the road. That will help schools like the Porter County Career and Technical Center, which I visited during my second week in office, create even more pathways for success for Northwest Indiana students.
Northwest Indiana has long been a place where dreamers do well. From the enterprising spirit of its early manufacturers to the Jackson Five to two Nobel Prize-winning economists, Northwest Indiana knows how to earn its success. And I believe it can do so again.