GREENSBURG – On the eve of the first anniversary of his election as Indiana’s 50th governor, Mike Pence returned to the Tree City Monday and appeared just as enthusiastic about the state’s future as he was upon being voted into the position a year ago.
Pence called his gubernatorial duties “the highest honor of my life” during a keynote address at a Greensburg-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce luncheon Monday afternoon at the Decatur County Community Schools building.
The governor laid out his “four pillars” for success for the state, highlighting the accomplishments of the last year and providing a roadmap for Indiana’s future. That map, Pence said, will be one in which all roads in the country lead to Indiana.
Gov. Pence told his audience the nation is facing “very challenging economic times,” but in spite of that – and the state’s 8 percent unemployment rate – Indiana finds itself in a position in which other states might wish to be.
“In a very real sense, we’re the fiscal envy of the country,” Pence said.
That sentiment led Pence to the presentation of his first strategy: continued fiscal stability.
Pence said he took office with the plan of presenting “an honestly balanced budget,” one that would require the state to live within its means. Pence also said he would “hold the line” on spending saying “Fiscal integrity is the foundation of our prosperity.”
The governor backed up those claims with the news that the state is expected to have a $100 million dollar surplus over the next two years and presently has $2 billion “in the bank.”
Pence expressed his gratitude to State Representatives Randy Frye and Cindy Ziemke, both of whom were in attendance Monday, for their help in passing the state’s budget. Pence called Frye and Ziemke “outstanding leaders in the general assembly.”
With that budget in place, Pence took the opportunity to tout tax relief and regulatory reform. Part and parcel to that was the governor’s recent tax cut, which was the largest in the state’s history and will result in $800 million in tax relief over the next two years, he said. In all, the governor said Hoosiers will see more than a billion dollars in total tax relief over the same time period. Pence emphatically added that Indiana is the lowest taxed state in the Midwest.
Continuing with encouraging economic indicators, the governor cited Site Selector Magazine which designated Indiana as the most competitive state for business in the Midwest and second in the nation at large as visible elements of the state’s continued strong growth. Additional positive economic figures presented by Pence included Indiana’s rank of fifth in the nation in terms of best places to start a business.
Pence also spoke of $800 million in new funding for roads, part of his third pillar: improvements in infrastructure.
The governor put job creation at the top of his “to do” list from day one, but noted that success in the workforce begins with success in the classroom. Pence cited education innovation as the fourth of his major strategies, and he outlined those plans in front of an audience that included numerous students from all three local high schools.
“I think education ought to be about discovering where our young people’s God-given talents are,” Pence said. The governor also shared his hopes that students would walk across the stage at their respective graduation ceremonies ready and properly prepared to enter the workforce, or to go on to higher education.
Keeping those students in their home communities is also a valuable tenet for the governor, who spoke of the need to increase vocational training and job-readiness at all schools in order to make that goal a reality.
The governor’s Greensburg visit was commemorated with two gifts, the first of which was a lapel pin bearing the iconic courthouse tower tree presented to Pence by Chamber executive director Jeff Emsweller.
Emsweller also gave Pence a framed photograph of the courthouse tower tree set against a background of exploding fireworks from the 2012 Tree City Fall Festival. The photo was taken by Jeff Emsweller’s son Nathan. The governor thanked the Chamber for the gifts and stated the photo will hang on the wall of his office.
The luncheon also included short presentations by Greensburg Mayor Gary Herbert and Chamber member Diane Hart-Dawson. Dr. Michael Layne led the audience in prayer prior to Pence’s arrival.
The governor was briefly delayed due to a previous commitment in his hometown of Columbus Monday morning.
Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056