1 out of 8 jobs in America was created in…Indiana

by Ryan Streeter on January 19, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

I’ve been absent for a couple weeks because life has been a bit full. My excuse is that work’s been keeping me busy. I’m not complaining, though. Work has been great, and productive.

Mike Pence laid out his 2014 agenda in four policy speeches throughout December.

He then summed all of them up in his State of the State last week (video here).

Since I’ve just thrown a lot at you in those links, here is a collection of excerpts from his State of the State, which give you a good sense of the robust conservative plan of action Pence is advocating (my favorite one is the title of this post):

Progress

Last year I told you we would make job creation job one, live within our means, improve our schools and cut taxes. Thanks to the hardworking people of this state and all of you in this room, we did just what we said we would do. We balanced our budget, created jobs, cut red tape by 55 percent, improved our schools and roads, and paid down state debt.

I even put the state’s plane up for sale. If you know anyone looking for a great deal on a Beechcraft King Air 200, give me a call!

We did all of that and gave Hoosiers the largest state tax cut in Indiana history.

As a result, Indiana has become a national leader in job growth. Last year, Hoosiers created more than 47,500 new private sector jobs. And we maintained our AAA credit rating. In November, one out of every eight jobs created in this country was created right here in Indiana. Unemployment was 8.6 percent when I stood here last year. Today, while still too high, it’s at a five-year low of 7.3 percent. And since 2009, Indiana has the fifth fastest private sector job growth rate in the nation.

Most encouraging to this dad, Indiana’s fourth and eighth graders recently showed the second best improvement in America in math and reading scores, and fourth-grade reading proficiency is the highest it has ever been….

Continuing tax cuts

Even with our recent progress, one significant impediment to business investment remains—it’s called the business personal property tax. This tax is especially damaging because it makes it harder for Hoosier businesses to grow by directly taxing any investments they make in equipment. Taxing equipment and technology in a state that leads the nation in making and creating things just doesn’t make sense. And it looks like our neighboring states have figured that out. Ohio and Illinois don’t have a business personal property tax, and Michigan lawmakers just voted to phase theirs out. To make Indiana more competitive, let’s find a responsible way to phase out this tax….

Medicaid

There’s been a lot of talk about Medicaid. The sad truth is that traditional Medicaid is not just broke, it is broken.

Research shows that the program does not lead to better health outcomes and in some cases hurts the very people it is supposed to help. One analysis found two-thirds of the children on Medicaid who needed to see a specialist, couldn’t. Traditional Medicaid is not a system we need to expand. It’s a system we need to change. The Healthy Indiana Plan is the right place to start.

The Healthy Indiana Plan is consumer-driven healthcare that moves people from emergency rooms to primary care and encourages low-income Hoosiers to take more ownership of their own healthcare decisions.

Let me be clear, we will continue to work in good faith with federal officials to expand our Healthy Indiana Plan. I will oppose any expansion of our health insurance system that condemns vulnerable Hoosiers to substandard health care or threatens the fiscal health of our state.

Hoosiers have high expectations when it comes to Indiana schools. That’s why Indiana decided to take a time-out on national education standards.

Common Core

When it comes to setting standards for schools, I can assure you, Indiana’s will be uncommonly high. They will be written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers and will be among the best in the nation.

Because every child deserves to start school ready to learn, I believe the time has come for a voluntary pre-K program to help Indiana’s low-income kids.

Pre-K

Now, I’ll always believe the best pre-K program is a prosperous family that is able to provide the kind of enrichment in their home that every child needs and deserves. But the reality is that’s not the case for many Indiana children.

It’s important that the program be voluntary.  It’s important that the program is available in the form of a voucher.  I want parents to be able to choose to send their child to a church-based program, a private program, or a public program that they think would best meet their needs.

Let’s open the doors of opportunity to low-income families for preschool education, for their future and ours.

Teacher Choice

And, with all the talk about parental choice, I believe teachers deserve more choice, too.

Any public school teacher who feels called to serve in a low-performing school or a public charter school serving low-income students should have some of their compensation protected if they are willing to make the move. Let’s let our teachers follow their hearts, and go where they think they can make the most difference.

Continuing to expand charter schools

Another way to give parents more choices is to expand the availability of public charter schools.

Even though they are public schools, charters operate with several disadvantages. We need to level the playing field and allow charter schools to manage their budgets with the same flexibility as traditional public schools.

At the same time, in the interest of greater choices for families, we should make sure that unused and underutilized public school buildings can be put to good use by charters and other schools that need them.