Now that the Indiana has thawed out and is no longer covered under a blanket of snow, the state legislature has kicked back into session.
To mark the beginning of another year, House Speaker Brian Bosma announced the 2014 Republican caucus legislative agenda on Wednesday, Jan. 8. The agenda includes the top five goals we as a caucus want to accomplish in the short 10 weeks that we have to tackle these important issues.
One of these issues is transportation. In industries such as retail sales, tourism, agriculture and manufacturing, 1.7 million full-time jobs are dependent on a quality infrastructure network. If we don’t provide the appropriate funding for roadway repair and maintenance, Indiana businesses and Indiana citizens pay the price. Driving on roads in need of repair costs Indiana motorists $1.2 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs.
Even in a non-budget year, making this necessary investment is still possible. By transferring a portion of the funds already allocated for road funding projects last legislative session, we will be able to provide critical funding to repair our roads and directly provide jobs through their design, construction and maintenance.
In the interest of both creating jobs and preparing Hoosier children with the skills that they need, this session we will also focus on expanding preschool options. Like last session, we are also looking to continue our work on bridging the skills gap in Indiana. Currently, 67 percent of Indiana manufacturers are reporting a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers to fill their openings. With economic experts agreeing that workforce quality is a top factor that determines where a business will locate or expand, if Indiana wants to maintain its pro-jobs environment, this is an issue we must address.
We also want to encourage new employers to move here or remain a fixture of Hoosier communities and continue to expand their current operations. Indiana has one of the best business tax climates in the country, which is a reason why Indiana’s private sector economy continues to outpace our neighbors and most other states. But there is one tax that is dissuading Hoosier businesses and shareholders from investing in new opportunities: the business personal property tax.
In Indiana, businesses must pay a tax on equipment they own, a taxing mechanism that all of our neighboring states either do not have or implement at a lower rate. By granting counties the option to reduce or cut this tax on any new investments by businesses, we can make our state an even more hospitable place for innovation and economic prosperity.
Since I came to the legislature in 2010, I have made it my priority to serve the people of Indiana in every capacity I can, and sometimes that means reviewing the laws and regulations already on the books to better serve Hoosiers. The government should work for the people and be limited in nature. There are some regulations currently in place that have either become unnecessary or were perhaps unnecessary to begin with. This session we will continue to look at ways to reduce the size and scope of government, but only in a fashion that creates a more efficient and accountable environment for Hoosiers.
With session now in full swing, I look forward to achieving these priorities and working towards a better Indiana. I am confident that our state is on the right path, and I am honored to play a role in this positive progress.
Rep. Frye (R-Greensburg) represents Ohio and Switzerland counties, as well as portions of Ripley, Decatur, Jennings, Jefferson and Dearborn counties.