In my experience talking to entrepreneurs, CEOs and small business owners about what the Hoosier State can do to help businesses thrive, they often talk about the need to improve our work force.
Business owners—in and outside Indiana—want a tax and regulatory environment that keeps the cost of doing business low. They want the predictability that comes with a fiscally disciplined public sector.
Shortly after being sworn in as Indiana’s 50th governor, I submitted a jobs budget to our Legislature. It featured items that business leaders have told me matter most: historic levels of tax relief, increased funding for schools and roads, new career opportunities for our work force and the fiscal responsibility for which Indiana is known. Working with our legislative leaders, we passed $440 million in new annual tax relief. When we factor in existing corporate tax reductions already scheduled in Indiana law, Hoosiers will see more than $600 million in tax relief next year—the largest state tax relief package in Indiana’s history.
Some states tout tax relief in one sector while quietly paying for it through tax hikes elsewhere in their budgets. Not in Indiana. Not only could we afford our tax cut, but we also achieved it while preserving annual surpluses in excess of $100 million.
In addition, our reserves will average 12 percent of total government spending during the next couple of years. We have held annual spending growth to 2.5 percent, which matches the average of the past 10 years in Indiana.
Because of our commitment to the state’s fiscal health, we can fund priorities that matter for enterprise. We have created new career pathways for high school students, invested nearly $200 million in new funding for schools and provided $30 million to reward schools that hit performance benchmarks.
We also have more than $400 million in new funds for roads, which is critical for a transportation hub like Indiana. Finally, I ordered a moratorium on new regulations my first day in office to make our business climate even stronger.
Indiana’s commitment to priorities that businesses value is evident. Chief Executive magazine recently ranked Indiana as the fifth best state for business in America and first in the Midwest. Site Selection magazine ranked Indiana No. 2 in its list of Top 10 Competitive States.
We promote economic opportunity in Indiana with our eyes open to the reality of today’s competitive landscape. Sun Belt states have scooped up talent and investment—not only because of the weather but also because of a favorable climate for job creators. The outmigration from beautiful places such as California shows just how much business climates—and the policies that shape them—matter.
Governors and other elected officials do not create jobs. But we can help create the conditions in which job creators flourish. I believe the steps we have taken in Indiana to improve our work force, schools, roads and tax climate prove that point.
Mike Pence is the 50th governor of Indiana and a lifelong Hoosier. He served as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013.