A public spat between the Legislature and governor’s office over tax cuts has become an overarching issue, but Indiana Speaker of the House Brian Bosma said the state should be focusing on job creation.
The Indianapolis Republican talked about the current legislative session during a meeting of the St. Thomas More Society Monday, March 25, at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. He devoted much of his remarks to a 2005 lawsuit challenging the General Assembly’s practice of saying a prayer each day during the session.
Turning his attention to the current session, Bosma noted the Republicans have a supermajority in the Legislature and many were concerned the caucus would not be united and would run amuck. The key to preventing that from happening is leadership, he said.
He has worked at developing respect between the rank-and-file members of the House of Representatives and the leadership. He said he has met and developed a level of trust with every member of his caucus.
“Probably one of my largest leadership challenges is to keep folks from majoring in the minors,” Bosma said, explaining he does not want the Legislature to get distracted by sideshows.
However, he noted, disagreements are bound to occur. In previous sessions, the General Assembly had disputes with former Gov. Mitch Daniels, but this time the disagreement with the governor’s office has, unfortunately, Bosma said, become public.
The speaker said the central question in the tax cut disagreement with Pence was what the state should do with the “very wisely accumulated reserved” that has been developed. Pence is pushing for a tax cut for Hoosiers while the proposed budget winding through the Statehouse does not include such a cut but instead puts more funding into roads and education.
Bosma said the tax issue is drawing the attention right now and overshadowing the “big story for this session” of the Legislature’s work in addressing unemployment. In particular, the state, along with local governments and schools, are trying to find ways to fill the skills gap and opportunity gaps.
Pointing to recent research, Bosma said even while Indiana’s unemployment rate hovers above 8 percent, jobs are going unfilled because the skills Hoosiers have do not match the abilities employers need. Compounding that, the brain drain is continuing as many young people leave the state because they cannot find the high-challenge, high-opportunity jobs they want.
Among the bills Bosma authored this session is House Bill 1002 which would establish the Indiana career council. This body would focus on aligning the state’s education and career training system with the skills Indiana companies need.
It passed the House 99 - 0. In the Senate it has bipartisan sponsorship from Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.