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Holcomb Signs Workforce Development Bills Despite Business Concerns

Gov. Eric Holcomb signs workforce bills with Indiana lawmakers and other state lawmakers and business leaders. (Samantha Horton/IPB News)

Gov. Eric Holcomb signs workforce bills with Indiana lawmakers and other state lawmakers and business leaders. (Samantha Horton/IPB News)

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed both workforce development bills passed during the 2018 session into law Wednesday.

“It’s addressing the needs of yes the employers, but of our citizens,” says Holcomb. “That’s the why we are doing this. We are addressing the needs of the people of the State of Indiana.”

The two bills come at a time that Cummins Government Relations Executive Director Cathy Van Way says there is an expected increase in worker shortage.

“It’s estimated that 77 million baby boomers are expected to retire over the next 20 years with only 46 million new workers to replace them,” Van Way says. “Cummins and businesses across the state need to address this challenge now.”

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) noted the state’s transformation to become a destination for business to choose to locate in Indiana.

“Just a mere 15 years ago, Indiana was the only state to lose technology jobs; the only state,” says Bosma. “We were 50th in economic momentum according to the American Legislative Exchange Council, we had the worst business tax environment in the country, and all of that has changed. Indiana now leads the pack.”

However, there are still some organizations not sold on the 2018 legislation done for workforce development. The Indiana Manufacturers Association came out against one of the bills because of questions about how a so-called “Governor’s Workforce Cabinet” would be much different than the State Workforce Innovation Council, which has been in place with much the same aims. Holcomb says the previous grouping was too large, and was therefore inefficient.

“All the previous approaches were helpful,” says Holcomb. “This is all about taking all that information and putting it into motion, putting it into action. And the cabinet has been rightsized from the way it was.”

But the cabinet may not comply with some federal rules, and that could cost Indiana tens of millions of dollars if it doesn’t receive a waiver. That request is being submitted soon, and Holcomb feels confident it’ll be approved.

“We’ve been in ongoing discussions and we’re encouraged by those discussions,” says Holcomb. “We’re going to take the Secretary of Labor up on his offer for states to seek more flexibility. Six or seven other states already have.”

He says he wanted to wait until the bills were signed into law officially before submitting the waiver request.

A few hours after signing both bills, Holcomb released an announcement that Danny Lopez will be the chairman of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet. Lopez was serving as Holcomb’s deputy chief of staff.

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