Helping Indiana and directing state resources to aid in pandemic recovery efforts appears to be a priority for Gov. Eric Holcomb.
In Holcomb’s state of the state address Jan. 19, he focused on how hurdles presented by the pandemic could be viewed as opportunities.
“Hoosiers have risen to meet these unprecedented challenges, realizing much more work is to be done in this historic moment of opportunity,” Holcomb said. “The state of our state is resilient and growing. Our foundation has held strong.”
He said because of Indiana’s strong fiscal position before the pandemic and spending cuts made as COVID-19 spread, funding was restored to many state agencies and to higher education. Funding increases for higher education also are planned during the next two years and K-12 funding will be increased by $377 million.
The state also will make new investments in state parks and Indiana State Fairgrounds, and a new Indiana State Police lab and new Indiana National Guard armory will be built.
Holcomb also recommended paying off $400 million in teacher pension debt, the outstanding bonds on I-69 and the mortgages for three state hospitals. He said by eliminating those reoccurring costs, the state frees up money to provide flexibility in the budget for priorities such as increasing education funding.
Holcomb announced the creation of the Next Level Regional Recovery program. He said if the state’s financial position remains strong, the initiative will be designed to invest in regions that collaborate around an economic development strategy that is designed to attract, retain and develop talent.
He said the Indiana Economic Development Corp. will lead the effort, partnering with communities that collaborate to develop projects that improve quality of place, advance industry sector development and grow workforce development initiatives among regions, educators, employers, and the state’s workforce.
“Our decisions, our discipline, now enable us to do things that many other states won’t be able to do for years to come,” Holcomb said. “For Indiana, the future is now, and the world continues to hear Indiana’s engines roar.”
Read the full text of Holcomb’s state of the state speech.