Indiana State of the State Address 2004

Indianapolis, Ind., Jan. 13 - Following is the full text of Indiana Gov. Joseph Kernan's (D) 2004 state of the state address:

Good evening. Thank you.

Although we have many special guests this evening I want to express my thanks to Speaker Bauer, President Pro tem Garton, Senator Young, Representative Bosma, Chief Justice Shepard, and Chief Judge Brook. Thank you for your partnership and your leadership during the last four months.

We've seen leaders of both parties stand side-by-side, and bring the state and its people together.

Governor and Mrs. Orr: we're all glad you could join us this evening.

To Lieutenant Governor Kathy Davis, thank you for stepping forward and choosing to serve the great people of our state. Dad and Barbara, and the rest of my family, welcome. And to Maggie, thank you for everything.

I stand before you today filled with hope and optimism about our future, tempered with the sadness of the recent past.

Four months ago today, we lost our governor. We lost our friend.

We leave a chair empty in the gallery this evening for Frank O'Bannon. But make no mistake. No matter how great the loss we feel, Governor O'Bannon's life - so full of optimism, vision, and his genuine love of Indiana - will be with us always.

To Judy O'Bannon, we offer our admiration and our prayers to you and your family. You have shown extraordinary grace and courage during this most difficult time, and you make us all proud. Judy, thank you for being here.

And to the people of Indiana, thank you. Thank you for your good will and good wishes during this time of unexpected change.

But this should not be a surprise. This is who we are. It's who we have always been.

We are a people of action.

When Abraham Lincoln issued the call to fight for the Union, more than 200,000 Hoosiers answered. Twenty-four thousand of them did not return home.

Hoosiers continue to answer when our country calls. And as in the Civil War, their service is not without sacrifice. We have lost 19 Hoosier soldiers in Iraq, the most recent being Specialist Luke Frist of Brookston.

Our Guard's 293rd infantry battalion is just back from Iraq. It is the first guard unit since the Korean War to receive the Combat Infantry Badge.

Representing its 650 members here tonight are Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Ivan Denton and Command Sergeant Major John Runge. On behalf of the people of Indiana, we thank you for your service.

Tonight we remember the sacrifice and the courage of Indiana State Trooper Scott Patrick and all of his brothers and sisters in uniform across Indiana whose service provides us our protection.

We also remember State Representative Roland Stine, who was returning home from his work here at the Statehouse when he was killed by a drunk driver. His time in the House was much too short, but his impact upon Indiana and his students is immeasurable.

Eva Kor, who survived the Holocaust and the destruction of her CANDLES museum in Terre Haute, has vowed to rebuild. Her sacrifice, and that of her husband, Michael, ensures that those who may be exposed to hate, intolerance, and bigotry will also be exposed to love, charity, and mutual respect. Eva, thank you for being with us.

Our communities are places that we are proud of because of the people who call them home.

We Hoosiers step up when we are called upon; we give our neighbors a hand when they need one; we're hard to knock down, and quick to get back up; we hold doors open for those who can't do so themselves; we are honest and more interested in working together to solve problems than we are in placing blame; we are people you can count on, who treat each other with dignity and respect. And we have been leaders in embracing change, and making the world a safer, and better, place.

In 1975, Maggie and I moved back to South Bend.

We didn't have jobs, and we had no idea what we would be doing. All we knew was that we wanted to come home to the place where we both grew up, and where we wanted to live and work.

It was a great decision and we've never looked back.

As I look ahead, I am filled with confidence that the future is ours for the taking.

The foundation we build upon is solid.

During the national economic recession, while other states cut back on investments in economic development and raised taxes on business, Indiana went on offense.

With bipartisan support we took bold and decisive action so that business can succeed and jobs can be created.

We enhanced research tax credits.

We created venture capital tax credits.

We eliminated the gross receipts and inventory taxes.

We will not back away from these commitments, and will continue to look for incentives to help business - particularly small business - create more jobs.

At the same time, we restructured Indiana's taxes to lessen the effects of court-ordered reassessment.

If not for our actions, homeowners' property tax bills would have been 40 percent higher.

And last month we moved the filing deadline to help 95,000 families save more than $12 million.

We know that some farmers, homeowners, and seniors have been particularly hard hit, and we need to look for common ground on how we can provide additional property tax relief.

With bipartisan support, we are investing more than a billion dollars in our future through Energize Indiana.

We are funding:

K through 12 and higher education;

Indiana-based research and development;

Certified technology parks and university construction projects; and Millions in new investments for rural development.

Along the way, we didn't quit on manufacturing. And we won't.

Despite job losses during the national recession, we still rank ninth in manufacturing employment. Indiana manufacturing is a strength, not a weakness, as some have suggested. We must seize the opportunity to make Indiana even more competitive, with support for initiatives such as Purdue's Advanced Manufacturing Institute. As we strive to create more jobs in the future, we will not abandon one of the best workforces in the world.

The life sciences industry, the fastest growing sector of our economy, has seen the development of IU's Emerging Technology Center, the $72 million venture capital Future Fund I and the BioCrossroads Initiative. Fifty percent of this initiative's new jobs will be in advanced manufacturing. Cutting edge technologies; cutting edge manufacturing; real jobs for the future.

Hoosiers, and others, are noticing our progress.

Three-quarters of Indiana small business owners believe that the economy will improve during the first half of 2004 and more than 40 percent plan to hire new workers.

Indiana is one of the top 10 states for new or expanding businesses. And Indiana has the 11th most business-friendly tax climate in the nation. We are open for business. Indiana is in a state of progress.

Today, we look ahead and take another step in charting a new course for Indiana's future.

My top priority is to create jobs. We will aggressively promote Indiana businesses and workers to beat back the effects of this national recession.

From my travels across the state, I know that many families and businesses are struggling. Raising a family is difficult enough without worrying about your job or rising health care costs.

I will not stop looking for any way to create new jobs, grow our economy, and make life better for all Hoosiers.

A key element in doing so is helping workers advance their skills to find good paying jobs.

Today, we are better positioned to grow and expand than ever before. Through Energize Indiana, we have begun assessments and profiled jobs for Indiana workers. We've already started pilot programs that have produced promising results. Lilly in Lafayette, Whirlpool in Evansville, and AM General in Mishawaka have been important first partners. Now we will take the next step and expand this effort statewide with an initiative we're calling: Indiana@Work.

Indiana@Work will use existing funds to train more workers, better assess their skills, and match them with available jobs.

If you are looking for a job, Indiana@Work will assess what you can do and match you with job opportunities.

If you are looking for a new career path or ways to get a better paying job, Indiana@Work will provide training and then match you with job openings. If you are a company or small business looking to fill certain positions, Indiana@Work will identify workers who have the skills needed to fill those jobs.

Our goal is for every Hoosier to have a good job.

And through our Opportunity Indiana program, we will maximize the number of Hoosier companies doing state work.

We will assist women and minority owned businesses to get certified and gain access to capital.

And fundamental to our success is the continued collaboration between industry and our world-class colleges and universities to transform ideas and technologies into new products, new services, and new jobs.

Good business sense dictates that better education leads to better jobs. Indiana has received national acclaim for raising academic standards for our students and improving accountability for our schools.

Today: Reading scores are up. Math scores are up. And more Hoosier students than ever are going on to college.

I offer my appreciation to the leaders who made much of this progress possible - Governor Frank O'Bannon, Superintendent Sue Ellen Reed, members of the Education Roundtable and the State Board of Education, parents, teachers, and, of course, our students. We can do more.

Last week I announced the creation of the Early Learning Trust.

Under this program, every Hoosier child will have access to voluntary full-day kindergarten by 2007.

Indiana will also develop pilot programs for early learning opportunities for at-risk children across the state.

Early education is a sound and necessary investment in our future. For every dollar we invest in high-quality, comprehensive early learning initiatives, we will save seven dollars in welfare, special education, and criminal justice costs.

Early education. It's the right thing to do.

I call on the General Assembly to create the Early Learning Trust. With your help, 20,000 additional children will have access to full-day kindergarten this fall.

Over the next ten years, more than half-a-million Hoosier children will benefit from full-day kindergarten.

A child's early years are their formative years, and the most critical in their development. This investment will help them realize their full potential, and not send them off to school with one hand tied behind their backs.

I have identified the resources to fund this investment in our future - without raising taxes. I will work with you to get this job done for our children.

We must also keep our children safe.

Every month, and every day, Hoosier children - sadly, just like kids all across America - are abused or neglected.

It sickens me that a parent or guardian would willfully do harm to their child. These are the despicable actions of the very worst among us.

The fact that we have to have a government program to protect kids from adults is a tragedy. But it is our solemn responsibility, so we must do it well.

The Indiana Commission on Abused and Neglected Children has started its work. This commission, comprised of experts in child care, judicial matters, law enforcement, and social work, is taking an independent, comprehensive look at our Indiana child protection system. I will take prompt and deliberate actions as I get their recommendations. I will hold people accountable and make the necessary changes to protect Indiana's children from harm.

Additionally, I am creating, by Executive Order, an independent State Child Protection Task Force to investigate the circumstances of seriously endangered children. This Task Force will focus on our most vulnerable children, and will aggressively investigate complaints regarding their abusers, and find a safe place for these kids to live.

Our ultimate goal is to ensure that every Hoosier child is given the chance to grow up safe and healthy. Anything less is unacceptable.

A state without financial stability is a state without choices. Across the country, many state governments have been forced to take actions that Indiana has not.

In Indiana: We did not lay off state troopers. We did not shorten our school year. And we're not selling bonds to cover operating costs. We were better prepared. We implemented a deficit management plan and controlled our spending.

And, in this session of the General Assembly, I will not ask you to reopen the budget.

With the new revenue forecast now in hand, the State of Indiana will be in the black in 2004 and 2005. I will make whatever tough decisions are necessary to guarantee that is the case, without raising taxes.

And as we look to 2006, 2007, and beyond, we must hold the line on spending. I am calling on my friends in the General Assembly to grant the governor the authority to use a Line Item Veto to protect taxpayers from unnecessary and unaffordable spending. Forty-three governors already have some form of line item veto. It is time for Indiana to use this tool to help keep us fiscally sound.

My first government experience was as controller of South Bend, and I have run a business. I have always believed that government, like business, must live within its means.

Just as a family or a business tightens its belt in tough times, so too, should government.

That's why I have charged Lieutenant Governor Kathy Davis to work with leaders from across Indiana to review state government from top to bottom and propose changes to improve performance.

Kathy brings strong credentials to this Peak Performance Project. She's the former controller of Indianapolis, and as a manufacturing manager at Columbus-based Cummins, she revamped assembly operations at the main engine plant in order to reduce costs by 30 percent.

That's why I've asked her to do more than just look under the hood and kick the tires. If there's a way to better serve you, then maybe it's time to redesign the whole car.

This Peak Performance Project is focused on answering this question: What would state government look like today if we were starting from scratch?

Whatever service we provide must fully meet the needs of our customers - the people of Indiana.

Hoosiers must know that their money is being spent wisely and efficiently. They must have the highest expectations for us and we must meet them.

We know that most of our state employees work hard and they have the best interests of Hoosiers at heart. They are proud to serve the state of Indiana and its communities.

I will not tolerate anything less than integrity, honesty, and a total commitment to do the best job for the people of Indiana.

We will honor Hoosiers and their hard-earned tax dollars by having an efficient and effective state government. And to those few who choose to perform otherwise or exploit the system, you will not be on my team.

Last Friday I attended the funeral service of a classmate and friend. Mike McCormick was an A-6 Intruder pilot whose aircraft was shot down over Vietnam just 17 days before the peace agreements were signed.

Mike's remains were recently recovered, along with those of his Bombardier/Navigator, Al Clark. They were laid to rest, together, at Arlington National Cemetery, 30 years to the day after their final mission.

Everything we have we owe to the service and sacrifice of others. So many have given so much for so long. It is now our responsibility to take these precious gifts and make them better for those who will follow.

We must focus our attention on what will be, not on what might have been. I cannot control what happened yesterday, but get from it lessons learned.

To paraphrase the great baseball philosopher Sparky Anderson, I don't dwell on the past. There's no future in it.

There is a future - a great future - one built on our achievements, one based on our potential, one guided by our vision.

Indiana will be that place where Hoosiers will have good paying jobs, where our children are safe and prepared to be successful, where all have access to a world-class education, and where people will want to live.

This is my mission.

I am proud to be a Hoosier. I am proud of the wonderful people who make Indiana great.

We decide where we go from here. We are good at what we do.

As I look ahead, I like what I see. Indiana's best days are in front of us.

I'm ready to do all I can, working with all of you.

So, let's get to work. And let's do our work well. That's who we are. That's who we have always been.

Thank you.
All State of the State Addresses for Indiana :