Holcomb announces 5-point legislative agenda

INDIANAPOLIS — Eric Holcomb, as he prepared to assume office as Indiana’s 51st governor, presented his top five priorities for this session of the Indiana General Assembly.

“The guiding principle that shapes my agenda is to improve the lives of Hoosiers from all walks of life,” Holcomb said. “This agenda will achieve that by focusing on the issues that affect Hoosiers most.”

Here are the five priorities and primary components of each:

Cultivate a strong and diverse economy by growing Indiana as a magnet for jobs

» Pass an honestly balanced budget.

» Maintain the state’s reserve funds at prudent levels.

» Invest $1 billion to make Indiana an innovation hub over the next 10 years.

Create a 20-year plan to fund roads and bridges

» Funding options include: Fuel taxes, index fuel taxes to inflation, creative public private partnerships, new tolling options and fees for alternative-fuel vehicles

» The Next Level plan for roads and bridges will fully maintain existing roads and bridges, complete major projects; and invest in new projects for the future that will enhance the state’s connectivity and protect its motorists.

» Other infrastructure priorities include: Provide new roads funding for local governments, encourage federal dollar swap for local projects, create a double track on the South Shore Line, incentivize more direct flights and create a water infrastructure safety and reliability data hub through the Management Performance Hub.

Develop a 21st Century skilled and ready workforce

» Appoint a Secretary of Education beginning in 2021.

» Double the state’s investment in pre-kindergarten.

» Create a grant program that will fully fund adults who earn credentials, certificates and degrees in high demand, high-wage fields.

» Support greater digital connectivity for Hoosier students to achieve academic success by increasing state funding for the E-Rate federal match program and expanding broadband, Wi-Fi and communications services for schools and libraries.

» Align STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) efforts throughout Indiana’s K-12 programs to create the greatest benefit for the greatest number of students.

Attack the drug epidemic

» Create within the governor’s office the position executive director for substance abuse prevention, treatment and enforcement.

» Give local officials the authority to establish syringe-exchange programs.

» Enhance prevention by limiting controlled-substance prescriptions and refills.

» Enhance penalties for those who commit pharmacy robberies.

Deliver great government service

» Modernize the outdated state Department of Revenue computer system

» Raise pay for Indiana State Police

» Upgrade Indiana State Police labs to better monitor and control drug activities.

» Analyze waste, fraud and abuse in Indiana’s Medicaid and unemployment insurance programs to find efficiencies and find cost savings for taxpayers.

» Honor and support Hoosier veterans with by exempting military pensions from the state income tax.

» Expand the nurse-family partnership to combat infant mortality.