By Shelby Mullis
In one of his first public addresses as governor-elect, Eric Holcomb previewed his plan to create a stronger, more diverse economy and an affordable state government for Hoosier taxpayers.
Promising a more in-depth look at these areas when the session kicks off in three weeks, Holcomb gave a glimpse of five areas of focus at the annual Bingham Greenbaum Doll LLP Legislative Conference Wednesday.
Reminiscing over the last six months spent on the campaign trail, Holcomb referred to 2016 as a year of surprises. John Gregg, who ran against Holcomb in the governor’s race and introduced Holcomb to the stage, joked about surprises as well.
“I had planned on being here today,” Gregg laughed, referring to his Election Day defeat.
Holcomb called Gregg a member of “Team Indiana” — a team that will take Indiana to the next level.
“We’ve laid a strong foundation and where we sit right now goes well for where we are going,” Holcomb said. “In this world of uncertainty, Indiana has become a place of certainty. We’re no longer a flyover state or flyover country. In fact, we’re just the opposite.”
Strengthen and diversify economy
Holcomb said his goal is to make Indiana a “jobs magnet.” Further strengthening the economy is what Holcomb calls the basis for all other goals to be achieved.
“If we’re not growing as a state, that opportunity will allude us for progress,” he said. “It will vanish.”
Develop “long-term, data-driven” state and local infrastructure program
“We need to invest in ways that will take Indiana around the world and the world back to Indiana,” Holcomb said.
Through a number of transformational projects, including the addition of new bridges and the Interstate 69 expansion, Holcomb said Indiana will live up to the Crossroad of America name, motto and mission.
“Educate, recruit, train and retrain” workforce
With more than a million Hoosier jobs needing filled over the next 10 years due to retirement and the addition of more jobs, Holcomb said, the need to begin training the workforce is becoming more prominent.
Crush the drug epidemic
A widely-discussed issue across the state of Indiana, the drug epidemic, was addressed several times by both Holcomb and Gregg during the election season.
During his time in office, Holcomb said he aims to “kill the drug epidemic.”
Deliver “good state government at a great taxpayer value”
Holcomb said in order for this to happen, “we’ll measure everything we do, double down on what’s working and quit what’s not.”
Holcomb also announced a new addition to his administration Wednesday. Allison Karns, who currently serves as public safety policy director on Gov. Mike Pence’s administration, will become Holcomb’s legislative director.