Southern Indiana

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has laid out his policy goals for the upcoming year as the state legislature prepares to convene.

Holcomb listed five priorities in his “2022 Next Level Agenda” on Monday: economic development, education and workforce development, public health, community development, and improving government services. His presentation came a day before the Indiana General Assembly kicks off its 2022 legislative session.

Holcomb said one of his main focuses is to continue Indiana’s progress in the manufacturing industry by attracting more companies to the state. He proposed cutting taxes on business equipment purchases and encouraged the state to explore other tax-based incentives.  

“As we continue to advance on the manufacturing front, we have to make sure that we’re keeping up and keeping pace with all of the new equipment that’s being purchased,” Holcomb said. “And so we’re proposing eliminating the 30% business personal property tax floor on new equipment to encourage those continued investments in the state of Indiana, and to continue to build out that very important sector to our state’s economy.”

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a shift to remote work. Holcomb said Indiana will establish a remote worker program to support that emerging trend.

The state will also ramp up efforts to connect Hoosiers with employment opportunities. There’ll be a specific push to fill teacher vacancies, along with a broader initiative for the state’s unemployed population.

“We’ve got a 3% unemployment rate here in the state of Indiana,” Holcomb said. “That’s 100,096 individuals. We’ve got 152,000 unfilled jobs posted on our state website. How do we match those? Proactively reaching out to those 100,000 plus and getting them in touch … to those training services that they need, and getting folks who are ready and able to work right now.”

Indiana is looking to build partnerships with the private sector to bolster public health services in the state. Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch started the Mental Health Roundtable last year to connect with business leaders across the state and “spur innovation” in addiction and mental health treatment.

“The human cost of this pandemic is huge, and it’s going to exponentially grow for years to come,” Crouch said. “And not just the cost to our families, but the cost to our workforce, the cost to our budgets, whether in the public or the private sector.”

Other health issues Indiana’s government will tackle this year include lead contamination and infant mortality.

The administration’s education agenda includes plans to improve early childhood learning programs and to launch a school performance dashboard that will track student performance.

Broadband expansion and the new READI grant program, which will help fund local quality-of-life projects across the state, were among the infrastructure-related items mentioned in the agenda.

Holcomb highlighted new public safety efforts, including a program that will focus on the safe removal of dangerous chemicals found in firefighting foam. He said the state is also continuing efforts to build a more diverse police force and expand training on implicit bias and cultural awareness as well.

John is the Health/Southern Indiana Reporter for WFPL. He is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.