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Holcomb vows not to be ‘ship in port’ in final State of the State speech

Holcomb vows not to be ‘ship in port’ in final State of the State speech

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gov. Eric Holcomb on Tuesday night said to expect a busy final 12 months from his administration.

In the term-limited Republican’s final State of the State speech before he leaves office next January, Holcomb thanked lawmakers for working with his administration on a host of economic development and quality-of-life projects during his time in office. Much of the speech included nods to projects expected to be completed this year — such as I-69 from Indianapolis to Evansville, and the Next Level Broadband program — or are expected to continue beyond his term.

The governor still took out time to lobby for legislative priorities this year. He specifically asked lawmakers to require computer science courses for high school graduation by the end of the decade and require public universities to investigate turning at least some of their bachelor’s degrees into three-year programs.

“I do not plan to safely stay anchored in port for the next 12 months,” he said. “After all, standing still is not what we here in Indiana are built for.”

Although State of the State speeches traditionally focus on state-level matters, Holcomb on Tuesday paid tribute to two ongoing international crises. Among his special guests were two consuls general representing countries with longstanding ties to Indiana: Japan’s Jun Yanagi, whose country is still recovering from a massive earthquake that killed at least 180 people, and Israel’s Yinam Cohen.

“Please know we continue to pray for the safety and security of all those living in the Holy Land, and for the prospect of lasting peace,” Holcomb said to the latter.

Holcomb also took time to announce a $250 million Lilly Endowment grant to fund the redevelopment of blighted areas and to build or rebuild cultural activities. He said it’s the largest single grant in the endowment’s history.

Democrats said while there was much to celebrate in the speech, they were particularly dismayed by a lack of any mention of the state’s health care challenges. Sen. Shelli Yoder of Bloomington said Indiana needs a plan to reverse the closures of maternity wards and hospitals in rural areas.

“We applauded the completion of I-69, which is important infrastructure,” she said. “Health care? Just as important for the safety and security and well-being and prosperity of Hoosiers. That issue was not mentioned at all,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor, a Democrat from Indianapolis, said he wondered if the high-tech jobs the governor touted will go to Hoosiers or to people from other states with better educations. He also noted some of the broadband investments Holcomb cited were funded in part by the American Rescue Plan, a Biden administration initiative.

For their part, Republican leaders said they look forward to working with the governor on his agenda. House Speaker Todd Huston, a Republican from Fishers, said the jobs that come to the state mean more opportunities for Indiana businesses that work in a given employer’s supply chain. As for the broadband issue, Huston said some of the federal funding that led to Next Level Broadband investments predate the Biden administration.