Gov. Mike Pence painted a rosy picture during his progress report in Batesville Tuesday, Aug.13, then immediately got real with the convivial crowd of 182.
He noted Indiana has led the nation during the last three months in a row in creating manufacturing jobs. “We even beat out the state of California,” he crowed, citing Hill-Rom and Hillenbrand Inc.’s contributions.
Site Selection magazine said the state is the best in the Midwest and second best in the county in which to do business. CEO magazine listed Indiana at No. 5 in the U.S. and No. 1 in the Midwest, according to Pence, which earned the night’s only midspeech applause at the event sponsored by Hill-Rom, Hillenbrand Inc., Aramark and Rural Alliance for the Arts that benefitted the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Columbus native continued, “I don’t need to tell any one of you … that while Hoosiers are filled with a sense of potential in this moment, the reality is a quarter of a million of Hoosiers are still out of work.” With 8.4 percent unemployment, “people understand we’ve just got to do better.”
The state’s 50th governor observed, “We’re in a competition for jobs and investment every day.” He presented a four-part strategy to make Indiana stand out enough to be chosen by businesses wanting to expand or relocate.
The first factor: “An honestly balanced budget is the foundation of our economic prosperity.” The governor explained that in annual budgets for 2013-15, “we kept our spending increases to just 2.5 percent annually,” matching inflation. That will give the state a surplus in excess of $100 million in each of the next two years, he estimated.
“Fiscal discipline pays dividends in the competition for jobs,” Pence emphasized. When he spoke about that belt-tightening at a recent conference, four Chinese businessmen rushed up to the podium afterwards, liking what the governor said. With $1.2 billion in total tax relief over the next two years ($900 million of that new tax relief), he promised, “Indiana will be the lowest taxed state in the Midwest ... there’s no more effective way to advertise you’re a good deal than lowering your prices.”