Months of work and preparation have set the tone for the upcoming legislative session which began Monday. Campaigns have concluded, agendas have been rolled out and ballots cast. On Organization Day, the first official meeting of the 118th General Assembly, the Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma, spoke in great length on the importance of working together and finding common ground with members of both parties.
The Speaker continued to make history by appointing Rep. Steve Stemler, a Democrat from Jeffersonville, to serve as a committee chairman. For nearly 200 years, partisan appointments were made for each chairmanship until last session when the Speaker appointed two members of the minority caucus to lead committees. With Republican leadership in place and holding supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, bipartisanship will continue to be preserved.
Indiana is in a great position, well ahead of its Midwest counterparts and much of the country when it comes to private sector job growth, economic development and fiscal prudence. Debts have been reduced and a surplus has been grown to weather economic uncertainty. However, we still face complicated issues: a slow recovery of the national economy, gridlock in Washington, implementation of Obamacare and relatively high unemployment.
Indiana has been diligent in its proactive approach of attracting the best and brightest to our state, creating jobs at almost twice the rate of the nation (6.6 percent growth versus 3.8 percent.) Recognition has ensued as reports by Pollina Corporate and CNBC, in addition to Chief Executive and Area Development magazines tout Indiana as one of the most pro-business, tax-friendly states in the nation. We need to build on our momentum for continued progress.
As a part-time Legislature, the duration of session is only a few months, ending in April this year. The Legislature will be crafting the next two-year state budget, and everything will be on the table as we look to keep Indiana on the right path. Providing a fiscal framework that creates opportunities for small businesses to grow and hire Hoosiers, in addition to enabling the upcoming generation of leaders in our classrooms with the chance to succeed will keep Indiana moving forward and ahead of the curve.