INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb on Tuesday delivered his 2017 State of the State address to a joint convention of the Indiana General Assembly. His remarks elaborated on the five pillars of his legislative agenda while introducing new key issues.
“Together, we have the special charge of leading Indiana into our third century,” Governor Holcomb said. “That means we need to think not just about today but about the years to come—and we need to act with boldness and courage to solve our current issues and prepare Indiana for the ever-changing future.”
Governor Holcomb outlined his Next Level Legislative Agenda for the 2017 session on Jan. 5, just days before his inauguration. The agenda presents five pillars designed to address the key challenges facing our state today while positioning Indiana for long-term success and economic growth:
1. Cultivate a strong and diverse economy to ensure Indiana is a magnet for jobs.
2. Fund a long-term roads and bridges plan.
3. Develop a 21st century skilled and ready workforce.
4. Attack the drug epidemic.
5. Provide great government service.
Regarding how to fund a long-term plan for infrastructure, the Governor reiterated his support for a range of options—including fuel tax increases, new tolling options, fees for alternative-fuel vehicles and creative public-private partnerships.
“The fact is, existing sources of revenue are just not keeping up,” Governor Holcomb said. “I’m a believer that every time you ask a taxpayer for a dollar, you better be darn sure you need it and are going to use it effectively for its intended purpose. And, here’s a case that if we ask Hoosiers to invest a little more to meet the need, the return is going to be well worth it—for them, for our communities, and for our economy.”
The Governor also focused on attacking Indiana’s drug epidemic. Since 2000, the number of Hoosier deaths caused by drug overdoses has increased by 500 percent, and Indiana ranks 15th nationally in overdose fatalities. In his address, Governor Holcomb called out the “heroes on the front lines” in Indiana communities working to curb the drug crisis and save lives every day. On day one in office, Governor Holcomb created a new position charged with the responsibility to coordinate and oversee the state’s efforts to curb the drug epidemic: an executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement.
Beyond his five legislative priorities, the Governor maintained his support for a fourth water port in Southern Indiana to accelerate economic development as well as for amending the Indiana Constitution to ensure the state passes balanced biennial budgets for generations to come. He said his administration would focus on a long-term plan for bringing clean coal technology and innovation to the state.
Governor Holcomb ended his first State of the State address with a commitment to working with people from all walks of life.
“I will continue to reach out to everyone with ideas that can lift all Hoosiers, including those who may not always agree on everything but are willing to find opportunities to solve problems and move our state forward,” Governor Holcomb said.
Each year, Indiana’s Governor addresses both houses of the state legislature, the state’s Supreme Court Justices, and other state leaders at the beginning of the legislative session in the State of the State Address. It provides an opportunity for the Governor to report on the status quo of the state’s affairs, highlight key accomplishments of the past year, and outline key priorities for the year ahead.