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October 2020

Indiana recognized as one of the best

Many of us choose to live in Indiana because we’re close to family and friends, our low cost of living and our strong communities. As a state, Indiana continues to be recognized as one of the best in the country for our commitment to fiscal responsibility, as a top location for workers and employers, for our long-term investment in our roads and bridges and resolute support of our state’s youngest Hoosiers.

Our strong record of living within our means and saving for rainy days puts us ahead of the curve and positioned our state well to meet the needs of Hoosiers during the pandemic. U.S. News and World Report ranked Indiana second in the nation for the best “long-term fiscal stability.” What does this mean? Hoosiers can count on their tax dollars being wisely invested back into our communities and state. 

We developed a responsible, long-term road funding plan that does not burden future generations with debt. Our comprehensive and sustainable funding program got Indiana recognized by CNBC as No. 1 in the nation for infrastructure. From our state highways to our neighborhood streets and country roads, we continue to see local road improvements and repairs happening.

Because of our low cost of living and workforce training efforts, employers are choosing Indiana to set up shop. Chief Executive Magazine lists Indiana as the fifth best state in the country and the best in the Midwest to do business. This year alone businesses have committed to creating more than 23,000 new Hoosier jobs at more than $27 an hour.

Thanks to our strong fiscal discipline, Indiana added a historic $763 million in new money to our last budget for K-12 funding, with traditional public schools receiving more than 93 percent of the total tuition support. This record investment in K-12 highlights our commitment to our schools.

A strong education system provides equal opportunities for every student to learn and succeed, and a child’s ZIP code or family’s income should not limit their options. In Indiana, we have not only made record investments in our schools, but we have also provided parents the flexibility to choose a school that best meets their child’s needs. We rank third in the nation on the Center of Education Reform’s Parent Power! Index for our school choice opportunities, teacher quality and innovative programs.

Hoosier families are stepping up in a big way. With nearly 2,500 Hoosier youth adopted through the Indiana Department of Child Services in the last year, Indiana currently ranks first in the nation for its increase in the number of adoptions from foster care. Increasing funding for DCS, limiting social workers’ caseloads, allowing young Hoosiers to receive foster care services through the age of 21 and establishing an adoption unit within DCS is helping our most vulnerable throughout the state.

Every life is precious, and House Republicans are working to ensure Hoosier moms and babies have access to critical resources before, during and after birth, and now the state is experiencing the lowest infant mortality rate in its history. We are working diligently to protect our youngest Hoosiers, and these results indicate the start of a trend, not the end.

All these reasons and more make Indiana a great state to call home. We will continue supporting policies that put Hoosiers first and move our state in the right direction.

Halloween Tips For Safe Tricks, Treats

As Halloween gets closer and closer, Hoosiers are excited and brainstorming what to dress as this year. As you make your costume plans, consider these tips from the  Centers for Disease Control on how you can celebrate safely by protecting yourself and others from COVID-19.

The latest CDC guidance reminds Hoosiers to wear a mask and always practice good hygiene. If you plan to hand out candy, consider doing so outside by setting up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take and avoid direct contact with the ghosts and goblins at your doorstep. If your family plans to participate in trick-or-treating, please know a costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. Instead, find a creative way to make your cloth mask part of your costume.

Other safe, socially distanced activities include carving pumpkins and visiting an orchard or corn maze. The CDC says in order to do this safely, Hoosiers must try to maintain a 6-foot distance from one another. Click here for more tips.

Please be aware of counties coded in red on the Indiana State Department of Public Health’s coronavirus dashboard, as those areas may have more restrictions on gatherings and events for Halloween. To learn about your county, click here and visit the county metric tab.

Celebrating More First Birthdays

Indiana’s infant mortality rate fell in 2019 to the lowest level in state recorded history, marking the third year of decline.

Indiana is stepping up and investing in critical resources to keep moms and babies healthy before, during and after birth, so more families can celebrate their baby’s first birthday. The Indiana State Department of Health released preliminary data showing the statewide infant mortality rate fell from 6.8 per 1,000 births in 2018, to 6.5 in 2019. The mortality rate among Black infants fell from 13.0 in 2018, to 11.0 in 2019. Infant mortality is defined as the death of a baby before their first birthday.

To help protect our youngest Hoosiers, House Republican lawmakers championed a 2019 law creating an obstetrician-gynecologist navigator program to ensure more expectant mothers have access to critical care and support during every step of their pregnancy.

The program, My Healthy Baby, connects expectant and new mothers to early prenatal care, addiction treatment, wrap-around services and home-visit programs. My Healthy baby also provides resources and support for new moms throughout the baby’s first year. The program is implemented in 20 counties so far, with 25 other counties expected to be added next year.

Expectant women, new mothers and individuals from anywhere in the state can call the MOMS Helpline at 1-844-MCH-MOMS (1-844-624-6667) to find resources available in their communities. Click here to learn more.

Early Voting Opportunities for Hoosiers

It is time once again for the American people to decide who represents them in office at local, state and national levels. Although the upcoming general election takes place Nov. 3, Hoosiers do not have to wait to make their voices heard at the ballot box. All Indiana registered voters are eligible and can now vote early in-person through Nov. 2.

When voting early in-person, Hoosiers need to head to designated early voting locations in their counties. To find out where to vote early, contact the county clerk or visit IndianaVoters.com and click on “Find Your Polling Place” to view the hours, dates and locations. A valid photo ID must be presented when voting on or before Election Day.

Another option to vote before Election Day in Indiana is absentee-by-mail. Visit IndianaVoters.com to check eligibility requirements and fill out the online application as quickly as possible. Applications can also be downloaded and mailed, emailed or hand-delivered to the local county office.

Polling places statewide will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. For more information on the 2020 General Election, including polling locations and to see who is on your ballot, visit IndianaVoters.com.

With 5,000 precincts across the state, 30,000 poll workers are needed on Election Day. Hoosiers can earn up to $150 for their service, and the state is providing masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectants to local election officials to protect poll workers, election staff and voters. To get started and learn more, contact the county clerk or other local party representative, or visit the state’s website at workthepolls.in.gov.

Investing In Our Local Roads

Applications for the next round of state matching grant funding for local road and bridge projects are now available.

The Community Crossings Matching Grant program, established through a 2016 law championed by House Republicans, provides matching grants to cities, towns and counties for transportation infrastructure projects. Along with maintaining essential infrastructure, Community Crossings grants also stimulate economic development and new job opportunities.

Since launching, Hoosier communities received more than $739 million in Community Crossings grants. Over 200 grants, for a total of $126.5 million, were awarded during the last round of funding in the spring. After a delay due to the pandemic, it is now time to submit applications for the next round of funding.

The state awards two rounds of grants annually through the Indiana Department of Transportation. Local officials can use these funds to rebuild and maintain roads and bridges, replace guardrails and signs, and improve intersections. The process for obtaining Community Crossings grants is competitive, and criteria includes need, road and pavement condition, traffic volume and potential impact on mobility and connectivity in the community.

Counties with fewer than 50,000 residents and cities and towns with less than 10,000 residents contribute 25% of the matching funds, with larger communities contributing 50%. The program requires half of its available matching funds be awarded annually to municipalities with populations of 50,000 or less. The maximum amount given to a community is $1 million annually. Applications for the current round of Community Crossings matching grants are due by 5 p.m. EST Oct. 23, and can be submitted online here. Grant award announcements are expected in late November or early December. Learn more on INDOT’s website.

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