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Leaders Respond To Gov. Eric Holcomb's State Of The State Address

Statehouse

Governor Eric Holcomb used his State of the State address Tuesday to make another pitch for creating a long-term, sustainable road funding plan, but Holcomb also continues to avoid specifics on how to pay for that plan.

Legislative leaders have said they want the governor to be a strong voice for the tax increases that are likely to be part of the road funding plan. Holcomb only says that if the state asks Hoosiers to invest more in their infrastructure, the return will be worth it.

“When it comes to paying for these projects, I’m open to a menu of options," Holcomb says. "The fact is, existing sources of revenue are just not keeping up.”

When it comes to expanding Indiana’s pre-k pilot program, Holcomb is willing to be specific.

“Our most vulnerable children deserve a fair start too, so I’ve called for us to double the state’s investment in pre-kindergarten to 20 million dollars annually,” he says.

The bulk of Holcomb’s speech was a reiteration of his legislative agenda, announced earlier this month. That includes addressing the state’s drug crisis, giving State Police a pay raise, and seeking to generate one billion dollars in investment in Indiana companies over the next 10 years.

Holcomb’s address drew praise from Republican and Democratic legislative leaders. But there were criticisms, too.

Prior to the governor’s address, House Speaker Brian Bosma hoped to hear him lead the charge on fuel tax increases to pay for Indiana’s roads, and Holcomb’s speech only alluded to a “menu of options.” Bosma says that’s not quite what he was looking for.

“He’s just beginning the discussion, I’m sure," Bosma says. "As Senator Long said, he acknowledged that current revenues weren’t sufficient to maintain our reputation as the Crossroads of America.”

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath offers a more critical view of Holcomb’s lack of specifics on road funding.

“He is going to send the Republican members of the General Assembly across the minefield, see which of them takes some shrapnel and then make the evaluation from there,” Pelath says.

And where Holcomb did provide a specific 20 million dollar boost in state pre-k funding, Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane says that’s not enough.

“We really should be tripling or quadrupling the amount of funding for early childhood education because I don’t know about you Leader Pelath but I know plenty of areas in the state of Indiana – in my district, both counties – they’re ready, they’re primed for early childhood education,” Lanane says.

But Senate Republican Leader David Long says Holcomb’s approach is a prudent one.

“The key thing, remember, is that we are calling for an expansion," Long says. "And so we’re growing it; we’re growing it cautiously.”

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