Indiana is in good shape with a strong economy, peak employment and low taxes. Our strong fiscal foundation and economic momentum positions us well to handle the challenges we are facing in the 2018 legislative session, including fulfilling our funding commitments to local schools, reforming our workforce system, continuing our attack on the opioid epidemic and cutting government red tape.
A top priority of House lawmakers is to boost funding for traditional K-12 public schools facing a surge in enrollment. This funding boost accounts for the more than 6,000 additional students attending our public schools in addition to the $7 billion annually invested in K-12 education. The additional funds will come from the State Tuition Reserve Account and will ensure our public schools continue to be fully funded as they welcome more and more students.
Though the state annually invests $1 billion across nine state agencies in 30 different workforce development programs across nine separate agencies, many jobs still go unfilled. Proposed legislation would reorganize the state’s workforce programs and funding by using return-on-investment metrics to determine which programs are successful and where improvements are needed. Identifying where our programs overlap will help streamline efforts to make the system more efficient and beneficial to Hoosier jobseekers and employers. Continuing efforts to attract, retain and train more workers in high-demand fields will help increase Hoosiers’ wages and grow Indiana’s economy.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, nearly 100 Hoosiers die each month from a drug overdose. Under proposed legislation, up to nine new treatment centers could be opened, which would greatly improve access to addiction treatment programs throughout the state. This would ensure that Hoosiers, particularly in underserved areas, would have options to begin and sustain their recovery process. Additionally, this proposal would provide provisional credentialing to Hoosier mental health professionals who are qualified to treat those with addiction when they change employers, streamlining the hiring process for addiction treatment providers and accelerating the delivery of qualified treatment to those who need it.
Indiana is ranked No. 1 in state government by U.S. News & World Report. To continue this momentum, proposed legislation would repeal or update unused, clumsy, and duplicative reports required of state government entities. This would help streamline administrative processes and improve public transparency. In separate legislation, townships that have a population less than 1,200 and struggle to efficiently provide services would be consolidated with a contiguous township. This could enable local governments to achieve greater efficiency and cost savings for their constituencies while preserving the same level of service. Proposed reforms would bring greater oversight and accountability to township governments, resulting in increased transparency and the level of trust Hoosiers can place in their local officials.
As your state representative, my priority is to help our community and state. By addressing these important issues, we can make our great state even better. As we discuss these bills in the coming weeks, it is important we stay connected. If you have any questions or thoughts that you would like to share, email h29@iga.in.gov or call 317-232-9677.
Kathy Kreag Richardson is a Republican State Representative from District 29, which includes Noblesville, and has served in the legislature since 1992. She also is the elections administrator for Hamilton County. You may contact her at h29@in.gov.