Opinion: Keeping the pedal to the metal


Commentary by Lt. Governor Eric J. Holcomb

There is, perhaps, in all of sports no more fertile ground for iconic imagery and unabashed patriotic ritual than the Indianapolis 500. That will no doubt be truer this year than ever before, when 300,000 fans from across the world gather at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to celebrate the 100th running of this international racing spectacle. The event has certainly evolved, driven in large part by the astounding advancements in the technologies and innovative systems these vehicles now showcase.

It is hard to imagine race fans in 1911 ever envisioning million dollar machines hitting top speeds of 230 mph, even as they watched in amazement as Ray Harroun steered his Marmon Wasp around the track. Still, the Speedway and the entire IndyCar racing industry have capitalized and grown into a giant economic force, not only in Indiana but also around the world.

And that’s the natural order of things. The future has a way of arriving unannounced, to borrow a line from columnist George Will, and it is our responsibility to have a plan in place to embrace it, shape it, and ensure that it is one worthy of all the investments preceding it.

That approach, far too long a novel concept for State government, is precisely the one undertaken by the last two governors in laying a foundation upon which the Hoosier economy of the 21st Century would be built. The Mitch Daniels team I played on understood that a State government paralyzed by its own processes could never be nimble enough to keep pace with the evolving needs of Hoosier businesses, those folks employing our families and investing in our communities. We recognized that the unannounced economic future knocking on our door demanded efficient government and State agencies responsive to citizens and small businesses. Governor Daniels got it, and we began the process of modernizing State government on these basic tenets.

Governor Pence, who I proudly serve as Lieutenant Governor, has demonstrated that same foresight. From day one, the Pence Administration has recognized that job growth in an always fluctuating economy shouldn’t be tied to only government intervention. Instead, an economy built to last requires of our government strategic investments in roads and education, low taxes and smart regulations, and innovative public-private partnerships designed to make Indiana attractive to current and prospective employers and then letting the private sector do what they best -compete for your service and loyalty.

We are unabashedly proud of the results. Since Governor Pence took office, more than 135,000 new private sector jobs have been created and Indiana’s unemployment rate is among the lowest of our neighboring states. In all, upwards of 41,000 fewer Hoosiers are receiving unemployment than three years ago and more Hoosiers are working today than at any other time in our history.  That happens because over the past three years some of the most recognizable national and international employers have made million and billion dollar investments all across the state. Hoosier families have greater school options to meet their needs, and the Indiana Choice Scholarship has been extended to 32,000 more middle and lower income students. Our flagship universities are themselves thriving, pouring millions of dollars into developing the latest research and development in concert with the private sector.

This has not happened by accident. It has happened because the Republican leadership of the last twelve years has embraced the future, instead of blaming it.  Like the elimination of the death tax, one of the first pieces of legislation Governor Pence signed, which ensures Hoosier farmers and family businesses can share their hard-earned success with their children. Or the largest income tax cut in state history, another promise kept by the Pence administration, which is putting $1 billion back into the pockets of hard working families. Or a $474 million increase in K-12 education spending and $2 billion in additional funding for state and local roads, all accomplished without raising taxes one cent.

The future does indeed arrive unannounced, and predicting it can prove a difficult task. Capitalizing upon it, however, requires real leadership, nothing short of crafting and implementing forward-thinking strategies that lay the groundwork for success. The past twelve years are a demonstration of the real-life positive impacts of that leadership.

The Hoosier economy is flying around the track at 230 mph, and our workers and their families simply cannot afford to slam on the brakes.

Let’s keep the pedal to the metal.

Eric J. Holcomb is Indiana’s 51st Lieutenant Governor