Gregg jobs plan stresses preschool, small business growth

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg presented an economic development plan Monday that would make preschool optional for all Indiana 4-year-olds, pour money into growing small businesses and rebuild Indiana's image to one that's LGBT-friendly.

Gregg 35-point plan also would seek legislation to give local governments the flexibility to use local-option income taxes for economic development and quality-of-life projects and focus more of the state's training dollars toward the high-wage, high-growth economic sectors of life sciences, advanced manufacturing, information technology, agribusiness and 21st century logistics.

One day after a gunman attacked a gay nightclub in Orlando, killing 49 people, Gregg said he would work to repeal the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed into law last year and update the state's civil rights code to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers.

Gregg said Pence, a Republican he faces in a rematch after losing to him in a close race in 2013, has a social agenda that conflicts with the priorities of the business community, which has been supportive of LGBT rights.

"The No. 1 issue I still hear about is discrimination," Gregg said. "We've got to do something to restore and rebuild Indiana's reputation."

If elected, Gregg "will sign the very first day an executive order on LGBT rights for state employees and contractors," he said.

Gregg said his economic plan would be funded using existing dollars in the state budget.

Pence's deputy campaign manager, Marc Lotter, issued a written statement saying Gregg "is late to the game with a 'plan.'"

"Gov. Mike Pence has a plan that is already working for Indiana," Lotter said.

Indiana has added more than 150,000 new private-sector jobs since Pence took office and the jobs attracted by the state in 2016 have an average wage that's 27 percent higher than state's average wage, Lotter said.

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