By Vice President-elect Mike Pence Special to TheStatehouseFile.com
As my time serving as your governor comes to a close, I would like to share a few thoughts about the last four years and what we as Hoosiers have accomplished together. I am so proud of the people of Indiana. Hoosiers are known around America for being good and kind-hearted people, always willing to help each other in times of need, but as I learned traveling across this country, our state has also become synonymous with fiscal responsibility, innovation and a growing economy.
Vice President-elect and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
Together we made great strides since that January 2013 day when I took the oath of office. We lived up to our reputation and worked hard to create a state that attracts investment and jobs. With the Indiana General Assembly, we cut taxes in each of the last four years. We held the line on spending and with balanced budgets and record reserves, Indiana became the fiscal envy of the country. We rolled back burdensome red tape and made historic investments in education, infrastructure, innovation and reform.
We set a record for private sector employment. Today, we have more Hoosiers working than ever before in the 200-year history of this state. Indiana’s economy added more than 165,000 new private sector jobs, and our state’s unemployment rate has been cut in half. Indiana’s labor force participation rate outpaced the national average for more than two years running.
Because of hardworking Hoosiers and our state’s competitive business environment, we secured commitments from companies that represent more than $15 billion in capital investment creating more than 90,000 jobs in the future.
And, because our fiscal foundation is strong, the state has been able to partner with local communities through the Regional Cities Initiative to support quality of life improvements, attracting even more talent and investment in our cities. The state investment of $126 million will yield more than $2 billion in total investments – a great value for taxpayers – and will span more than 100 projects that include the redevelopment of downtown areas and waterways while enhancing cultural and economic opportunities.
As the Crossroads of America, Indiana made robust infrastructure investments to meet the needs of our economy. In the last four years, we committed more than $2.5 billion in new funding for roads and bridges – without raising taxes. We also secured the first ongoing, new investments for local infrastructure projects in more than a decade and cut the ribbon on new bridges on the Ohio River, made improvements on US 31 and made critical progress completing I-69 from Evansville to Indianapolis.
Our innovative Healthy Indiana Plan is a national model of how to provide affordable health care coverage to our most vulnerable citizens. Hoosiers are proving we can improve healthcare and drive down costs with consumer choices and preventive care without the federal mandates, taxes and fees.
With HIP 2.0, we have also made great strides expanding treatment for those who struggle in the grip of drug addiction. This year, we also broke ground on Indiana’s first mental health hospital in more than a generation and brought together experts from across the state to craft solutions to combat the scourge of substance abuse in our communities.
In education, while investing record amounts in K-12 public education, we set aside millions of dollars to increase pay for good teachers. I’m especially proud that we made historic strides to ensure that our schools work for all our kids, regardless of where they start in life and regardless of where they want to start.
We became the first state in America to make career and vocational education a priority again in every high school.
I am especially proud to have signed legislation that, for the first time ever, provides public funding for quality pre-K education for disadvantaged Hoosier children. Our pilot program is opening doors for vulnerable children across Indiana and creating a framework for future investment in early childhood education.
Our focus on education is affecting student performance in the classroom. Thanks to the hard work of our kids, parents and teachers, graduation rates and test scores improved over the past four years all across the state.
The success our state has enjoyed is a product of the work ethic and ingenuity of businesses large and small, in the city and on the farm but credit must also go to the men and women who serve our state at every level of our government.
The greatest blessing of my life is my wife Karen Pence and in her service as our first lady, Hoosiers have seen her love and devotion to Indiana throughout the past four years. As First Lady of Indiana, Karen has impacted the lives of children and families in a lasting way. Her travels across our state as our Bicentennial Ambassador and her charitable efforts supporting organizations in all 92 counties have touched hearts and inspired Hoosiers, and I will always be proud of her service.
I was fortunate to have at my side two dedicated lieutenant governors, Sue Ellspermann and Gov.-elect Eric Holcomb, who were full partners in every success of our administration. Credit is also due to the dedicated men and women of my governor’s staff, the members of my cabinet and the thousands of state employees whom I have had the privilege of working alongside the last four years. With their integrity and work ethic, these state employees personify the best of public service, and it has been my honor to serve the people of Indiana with them.
I am also grateful for the stewardship of the men and women of the Indiana General Assembly, especially Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long. These legislators enabled our state to become the fiscal envy of the country as we advanced innovative policies to improve the economy and well-being of Hoosiers.
But most of all, credit belongs to you, the people of Indiana, who demanded a government as good as our people. We worked each day to fulfill the trust you placed in us and while the work of the people will continue, I believe every Hoosier can be proud of the progress our state has made at the outset of our third century.
As my time as your governor comes to an end, I want to say thank you.
Thank you for giving me and my family the opportunity to serve the state we love. Thank you for supporting our efforts to build an even better Indiana over the last four years. Because of your support and faith, our state is more prosperous today, our economy is more dynamic, our children are better prepared, and the quality of life for Hoosiers is improving every day.
As we prepare to assume new responsibilities in our nation’s capital, we leave with grateful hearts knowing that everything we will ever do is owing entirely to the grace of God, my wonderful family, and you, the good people of Indiana. Wherever our service takes us in the promising days ahead, our hearts will always be here, where the moon shines bright upon the Wabash and until we come back home again, we pray that God will continue to bless this great state and all who go by the name of Hoosier. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your governor. I know the best days for Indiana and America are yet to come.
Republican Mike Pence is the 50th governor of the state of Indiana. He will be sworn in as vice president on Jan. 20.