INDIANAPOLIS — House Republicans plan to pursue a modest agenda focusing on education funding, workforce development, the opioid crisis and government efficiency during this year's 10-week legislative session.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, told reporters Thursday that Indiana generally is in good shape in terms of its economy and finances, but some tweaks are needed here and there to continue the state's momentum.
One of those tweaks, he explained, will be shifting a still undetermined amount of state reserve funds to cover the costs of higher-than-expected enrollment at Indiana public schools.
"We'll ensure that both this year and next year that the school funding formula is fully-funded, and local schools will get the funds that they were anticipating will come their way," Bosma said. "It's a top priority for us, and it's going to happen."
At the same time, Bosma is calling for a full stop on workforce development program funding beyond June 30, 2019, to encourage lawmakers and Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to come up with real solutions to meet the employment needs of Hoosier companies.
"Our goal here is to set a deadline, so that as of July 1, 2019, we know we have to make decisions about some of these critical programs," Bosma said.
Reform ideas in the pipeline include a new state website connecting job seekers and employers, state grants to businesses to cover the costs of training their own workers and dedicating Indiana corporate income tax revenue to worker training, he said.
Concerning the opioid crisis, Bosma indicated House Republicans want to ease the licensing process for addiction and mental health treatment professionals, as well as use existing state and federal funds to establish nine additional addiction treatment centers so no Hoosier is more than an hour's drive from one.
Finally, he said GOP representatives also will push to eliminate duplicate state and local government reporting mandates and seek to merge some 300 rural Indiana townships that have fewer than 1,200 residents.
"There are many other priorities for the House Republicans this session, but these are the ones that are front and center for us," Bosma said.