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Teacher pay, quality workforce are centerpieces of Gov. Holcomb's State of the State address

Gov. Eric Holcomb declares in his Jan. 15 State of the State address that improving teacher pay is a top priority. On Tuesday, he charged a new state commission with finding ways to do it by 2021.

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb followed through Tuesday on his pledge to charge a state commission with finding ways to make Indiana teacher pay more competitive with neighboring states.

However, none of the seven voting members of the Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission is a teacher.

Its members include a moving company executive; a former auto company executive; the leader of a charitable organization; a bank CEO; an Ivy Tech Community College vice president; an investment firm executive; and Jená Bellezza, of Gary, chief operating officer of the Indiana Parenting Institute.

They've been directed by the Republican governor to determine what constitutes competitive teacher pay in Indiana and to recommend ways of achieving it.

Holcomb also appointed a six-member advisory council to "provide further knowledge and expertise" to the commission, which includes no Northwest Indiana members but does have one classroom teacher: Emily Holt, of Arcadia, a math teacher at Westfield High School.

Teacher pay has been a hot-button issue at the Statehouse this year following numerous protests and walkouts by teachers across the country, many in similar Republican-led states, claiming they've not see any real wage growth in years or decades.

The commission's report must be delivered to the governor and General Assembly ahead of the 2021 legislative session.

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Statehouse Bureau Chief

Dan is Statehouse Bureau Chief for The Times. Since 2009, he's reported on Indiana government and politics — and how both impact the Region — from the state capital in Indianapolis. He originally is from Orland Park, Ill.