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Indy Chamber Makes Early Learning Legislative Priority

While they focus primarily on helping businesses in Indianapolis, the Indy Chamber of Commerce‘s legislative 'wish list' contains a number of statewide issues.

Less than a month before the General Assembly reconvenes, the Indy Chamber says it will continue pushing for full taxpayer funding of preschool, though it appears the governor and most legislative leaders want to wait for results from the current one-year pilot pre-K program.

"The corporate community feels the importance of early childhood education for the long-term benefit of our workforce, our population and on such issues as increased wages and crime fighting," said Mark Fisher, the Indy Chamber's Vice President of Government Relations.

He says they will keep pressing for pre-K, even though Indianapolis is moving forward with a larger pre-K program than the one receiving state money.

"While we might represent the nine-county region, we need a very strong Indiana as a state, so we felt it was important to continue to move forward (on pre-K)," he said.

The Chamber also continues to call for mandatory Kindergarten to be made law, though many schools offer Kindergarten now.

The Chamber is also pushing again for lawmakers to allow communities to pursue a local option income tax, a tax that would allow cities to potentially collect more revenue from people who work there, but who don‘t live there.

"They say, well I pay my food and beverage tax, or I pay my sales taxes. Well, none of that money goes to the general fund which helps hire police and EMS personnel, or that helps pave the streets," Fisher said.

The Indy Chamber will also lobby for more mass transit money, specifically for a dedicated funding stream for the Public Mass Transportation Fund to help pay for mass transit projects across the state. Fisher also says they hope lawmakers will create a statewide group that focuses on water management to help manage the state‘s water responsibly.

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