Gov. Mike Pence lauded Chrysler’s big plans to hire more than 1,200 workers in north-central Indiana and said he hoped to be able to make similar job announcements with the mayors of Franklin and Greenwood in the future.
Pence said he was working to bring jobs and grow the state’s economy and pitched his proposed 10 percent income tax cut as a catalyst to more economic development while addressing a crowd of Johnson County Republicans on Friday. He said the state would prosper if it reduced taxes, kept spending under control, promoted more vocational training in every high school and invested in education and infrastructure.
He spoke at the Johnson County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner, an annual gathering of local Republicans, at Jonathan Byrd’s Cafeteria in Greenwood. More than 320 people, including U.S. Rep. Todd Young and several local elected officials, attended.
Pence told the packed room that Chrysler would build the world’s largest transmission manufacturing facility in Indiana and that he’s been pitching the state as a good place to do business to more chief executive officers. He called upon every Indiana resident to be an ambassador for the state and to strive for success, saying that it was Indiana’s moment and that the state could go from good to great.
“It’s an extraordinary time,” he said. “When you look at the progress made in the last eight years, Indiana is poised for greatness.”
Pence, who had represented part of southern Johnson County when he was a congressman, outlined his plan for encouraging more economic growth in Indiana.
He said the state needed a balanced budget, should fund schools and critical infrastructure and ought to let residents keep more of what they earn by lowering state income taxes across the board.
State lawmakers should lower the state income tax by 10 percent because federal taxes such as the payroll tax recently went up and are likely to go up again, Pence said.
“Lessening the tax burden is something we ought to do because it’s good for working families,” he said. “But also, more than 90 percent of small-business owners file taxes as individuals, so one of the most effective ways to help job creators is to lower the individual income tax.”
Pence said he wants Indiana to be the lowest taxed state in the Midwest and to be able to say that on the “Welcome to Indiana” signs that border neighboring states.
Indiana needs every advantage it can get because there’s fierce competition for business investments and jobs, Pence said. He added he learns that more and more while calling CEOs and touting the state’s workforce, location and balanced budget, and he thinks the state should strive to be more competitive for jobs.
For instance, Indiana can’t be satisfied with being in the middle of the pack nationally in education and must especially try to improve vocational training, Pence said.
Pence said Chrysler CEO Sergio Machionne, whom he described as his new best friend and a great guy, was impressed with recent legislation that would make career and vocational education a priority in every high school in Indiana. He told Pence that the state could become a national leader in that area.
More vocational education will let students discover their potential gifts and talents, Pence said.
In the past, vocational education might have meant shop or industrial arts classes, but that’s no longer the case, Pence said. Such marketplace-tailored training can now prepare students for future careers in health care, computer technology or advanced manufacturing, he said.
“It’s not just right for growing our economy but also right for our kids and right for unleashing the full potential of our people,” he said.
Pence said he’s met people who went to vocational schools and went on to build successful companies and employ hundreds of people. He said most people know someone who started out in a clerical position or driving nails and went on to own the company.
He challenged residents to work hard and excel to unlock the full potential of the state and improve its quality of life.
“Whatever it is you can do, do it,” he said. “When you improve yourself, you improve the state.”
Pence encouraged residents to tell Indiana’s story and tell the world that it’s a place where dreams come true.