House speaker seeks jobs panel, preschool funding

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma plans to spearhead efforts to create a new statewide jobs council and give families scholarships so children can attend preschool as part of an agenda focused on fighting Indiana's stubborn unemployment rate by closing the state's "skills gap."

The Indianapolis Republican laid out the details of the House Republican agenda for the first time Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. Republican and Democratic leaders have long talked about training Indiana residents to fill advanced manufacturing and high-skill jobs that are already available in the state, but the details of how they achieve that goal are only now being released.

Indiana's unemployment rate has hovered, stubbornly, around 8 percent over the last year, even as Indiana-based companies say they have plenty of jobs available. The "skills gap" — the metaphorical chasm between the skills those jobs require and the training Hoosiers have received at school and in previous jobs — is something new Gov. Mike Pence brought up throughout the campaign.

It's also an area where leaders in every state are competing to find more work for their residents, Bosma said.

"There's no doubt that the overarching issue of this session will be workforce development and aligning our workforce training system, from kindergarten through doctorate, with available and projected jobs within the state," Bosma said.

The 15-member Indiana Career Council would be led by the governor and lieutenant governor and gather the heads of the state agencies, Ivy Tech Community College, and other leaders in the education and business communities to study the state's workforce training programs and available jobs.

The panel would meet throughout the year and report back to the General Assembly in November with changes to the state's education and jobs training systems that would get Hoosiers employed in jobs already available in the state.

Bosma said he talked with executives from Arcelor Mittal on Tuesday who have jobs at their northwest Indiana mill that pay $120,000 but lack applicants with the skills necessary to fill them. And there are plenty more jobs like that, he said, pointing to an estimate that there are 2.4 "STEM" (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs available for every unemployed state resident.

House Republicans will also seek $7 million a year to run a two-year pilot program giving scholarships to low-income families to cover the cost of pre-school. Early childhood education was a key theme in the governor's race last year, and Bosma pointed out that Indiana has one of the lowest enrollment rates for 3- and 4-year-olds in preschool.

"We're seeing kids who show up for kindergarten and first grade who are ill-prepared to succeed and who are unable to meet the read-at-third-grade requirement or many of the other goals we have for students," he said. "We have one of the highest percentages in the nation in the portion of kids at 3 and 4 who are not enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs."

The money would pay up to $6,800 per child for 1,000 children to attend private programs and establish the Early Learning Advisory Committee to evaluate the program and report back to the state's Division of Family Resources.

Pence has championed both these issues, early childhood education and jobs training, but has not formally said yet how he will accomplish either goal. Senate Education Chairman Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said last week he was carrying Pence's measure to create nine regional works councils around the state.

The new governor has yet to say how he would improve early childhood education, but that and other details of his first-year agenda are expected to be rolled out in his first State of the State address next week.

The House Republican plan follows on the heels of departing Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White's proposal to launch a public-based preschool program for half of the city's 3- and 4-year-olds.

Bosma said he sees room for both private and public answers to the quandary but said the state should try a modest, private-based pilot program before making any broad decisions.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.