With the inaugural festivities underway in DC, we thought a Trump-inspired slogan might sway a few Hoosier Republicans still wary of gas tax increases to fund our roads and highways. (And if that doesn’t work, maybe this report about a monster pothole shredding innocent tires on 465?)
In all seriousness, there’s growing momentum behind a long-term infrastructure plan (embodied by HB1002) – and we’re eager to help push this critical economic priority over the top.
State of the State
You guessed right – it’s strong. Governor Holcomb delivered an upbeat State of the State address Tuesday evening, detailing his five pillars for elevating Indiana to the ‘Next Level.’ He first focused on economic investments, including Chamber-supported plans for a billion-dollar innovation and entrepreneurship strategy and continued funding for the Regional Cities Initiative.
Infrastructure was next; while the Governor stopped short of endorsing the House GOP plan, he acknowledged that “revenues are just not keeping up” with maintenance, repair and expansion demands, and repeated his willingness to consider a “menu of options.” He also spoke to priorities beyond roads, mentioning direct flights and the South Shore Line, with a nod towards a fourth maritime port on the Ohio.
Governor Holcomb quoted Lincoln to close, and we’ll borrow a phrase: We like what we heard about infrastructure, but the next few weeks will make the difference in taking “promise(s) to reality.”
[In case you missed it, the other pillars are education and workforce, fighting drug abuse, and promoting government efficiency and effectiveness; we’ll tackle education – including a pre-K update – next week.]
Keeping the economy moving:
In related news, the Indy Partnership has compiled 2016 business attraction and retention results for the Indianapolis metro. Logistics projects accounted for nearly 3,000 new jobs in 25 successful projects – trailing only information technology in job creation by industry.
Since our central location and multi-modal transportation advantages are also vital to manufacturing (24 projects totaling a half-billion dollars in new capital investment in 2016) it becomes even more obvious that world-class infrastructure is a major part of our competitive business climate.
Did we mention jobs?
A long-term strategy for infrastructure is critical as our economic development team tries to coax companies into making long-term commitments to Central Indiana. But there’s another payoff to much-needed infrastructure improvements – good-paying jobs for the skilled trades (operating engineers, concrete workers, laborers and others) who will be doing the work.
Nearly 150,000 Hoosiers work in construction, and our friends at Top Notch Indiana are busy training a new generation of tradesmen in apprenticeship programs across the state. (A strong construction market creates workforce opportunities, helping entice high school graduates into vocational programs with high-wage, middle-skill careers. As we rebuild our roads, we can build up their earning power – and our tax base.)
Traffic, transit and talent…
The New York Times ran a great story this week on Indy’s appeal to young tech talent; our Accelerate Indy strategy starts with human capital as the key ingredient for a more innovative (and higher-income) economy. In this area, too, we need bigger investments and a broader definition of infrastructure:
State of Anticipation – what’s next?
It’s been a short week, with the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and the Presidential inauguration – but the next couple of weeks are YUGE:
On Wednesday (January 25th), the House Ways & Means and Transportation Committees will hold a joint hearing on HB1002 (we’ll be there to testify) at 9:00am. That afternoon at 1:00pm, pre-K advocates will rally at the Statehouse (consider showing your support) before a Senate hearing on the subject at 1:30pm.
The following Monday (January 30th at 7:00pm), the action moves down Washington Street to the City-County Building, as the full City-County Council will hold a public hearing on the Marion County transit proposal – come show your support, get engaged and follow @Transit4Indy for updates.