By: Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody
Word Count: 304
In their May 6 editorial, the Indianapolis Business Journal applauded the 2,000 jobs potentially relocating to the central Indiana region and noted Governor Holcomb’s “aggressive” tactics to woo perspective businesses. Offering taxpayer-funded incentives to businesses is a tried and true economic development practice but it can under-deliver. It is also important to invest those same resources in the future Hoosier workforce and reap proven, long-term dividends that will ultimately correct Indiana’s stagnating wage growth.
Economic development incentives demand transparency. You don’t have to look hard to find instances of jobs promised that never materialized. Often too, the jobs realized are far fewer than those promised. Worse, governors can find themselves using taxpayer dollars to reward corporations that offshore jobs. According to a report last year, during former-governor Mike Pence’s tenure, the IEDC approved $24 million in incentives to 10 companies that outsourced 3,800 Hoosier jobs.
And at what speed is Holcomb moving to address Hoosiers’ incomes, ranked in the bottom third nationally?
It also doesn’t quite seem that Governor Holcomb is moving at “the speed of business” to help mitigate damage from Carrier, United Technologies and Rexnord’s move to offshore thousands of good-paying Hoosiers jobs to Mexico. And at what speed is Holcomb moving to address Hoosiers’ incomes, ranked in the bottom third nationally?
While we can agree that all investments carry some risk, let’s also agree that we should be more “aggressive” investing in Hoosiers’ educational attainment, starting with early childhood education. Indiana’s current public pre-k program is embarrassingly underfunded, supporting just 1 out of every 20 Hoosier 4-year-old. We know quality early childhood education pays offs and considering Indiana is ranked 41st by US News and World Report in educational attainment, it’s long overdue.
Yes, the potential for tech jobs moving to Indiana is a good thing but the press conference is the easy part. Long-term success will depend on the governor and lawmakers addressing Indiana’s underlying educational issues.