Guest column: Pence says past session is one to be proud of

By Mike Pence
Indiana governor

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence

With the close of the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly, Hoosiers can be proud of the many accomplishments that will make Indiana a better place to get a job, raise a family or start a business. Today marks the start of the new fiscal year in our state and with that, a number of new laws come into effect that I want to highlight for you.

Guest columnSmall Hoosier businesses will now benefit from an exemption of business personal property taxes for taxpayers with less than $20,000 in assessed value in a county, effectively eliminating this tax for half of all filers. Hoosiers will also be pleased to know that our tax code is now simpler, with fewer adjustments and add-backs that complicate filing.

And, to continue to attract new investment and talent across our state, our Regional Cities Initiative will encourage Hoosier communities to development a new, collaborative approach to economic development.

The state’s biennial budget goes into effect today, and Hoosiers can be confident that Indiana will continue to live within its means, while reducing state debt and making historic investments in education, innovation and reform.

This new budget marks a renewed commitment to serving our kids by investing more than half of our state budget on K-12 education, $20 million to continue Indiana’s first-ever pre-K program and $48 million to further advance career and technical education.

New laws also give our teachers more freedom to teach and more flexibility to school districts to use innovative techniques in the classroom. Our budget also dedicates $70 million in teacher performance grants to meet our commitment of paying good teachers more.

To lessen the burden on cash-strapped local governments and schools, the common construction wage for public projects is now lifted, allowing the market to set wages on public projects. This will put taxpayers first and open doors of opportunity for small businesses to compete on public projects across the state.

In a continuing effort to ensure that our government is as good as our people, new ethics laws affecting both the legislative and executive branch close loopholes and increase transparency with regard to state officers and employees.

Our efforts to reduce the heartbreak of infant mortality and domestic violence will see greater resources, and the Department of Child Services will have $15 million in new funding for additional caseworkers. For those struggling with opioid addiction or who have substance abuse disorders, family members or friends may now obtain overdose intervention drugs to help save the lives of loved ones gripped by addiction.

Victims of human trafficking, prostitution and sexual assault will now be better protected under Indiana law with the creation of a dedicated human trafficking prevention and victim assistance program. “Jenny’s Law” also lengthens the statute of limitations for sexual assault and is named after a courageous Hoosier.

Hoosier businesses will also be able to give preference to veterans when it comes to employment decisions, and we doubled the resources for the state Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure these heroes get our support when they come home.

As these new laws come into effect, Hoosiers should know that with commonsense leadership, fiscal integrity and a heart for all our people, Indiana will continue to be a state that works.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence is in the third year of his 4-year term as governor of Indiana and is seeking reelection in 2016.

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