Indiana’s low quality-of-life ranking doesn’t surprise some
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Advocates and a key state lawmaker on Wednesday said Indiana’s low quality-of-life rankings result from policy decisions made by legislators.
As part of its annual rankings of best states to do business in, CNBC rated Indiana as the seventh-worst state in the country in which to live and work.
The report gave Indiana high marks for infrastructure and cost of doing business but rated Indiana 45th in education and 44th in the category life, health, and inclusion. Lack of childcare and lack of inclusiveness were among the key reasons cited for the low overall ranking.
United Way of Central Indiana’s Sam Snideman says the growth of remote and hybrid work means jobs increasingly go where the talent is rather than the other way around. He says education and other quality-of-life concerns increasingly come up when he is interviewing potential employees.
“We know that access to lots of other amenities like public transit, parks, the walkability of communities, is also really important, particularly to folks with young families,” he said. “And increasingly, we have some challenges with access to health care. These things are really, really important to individuals and families as they decide where they want to live and work.”
Until lawmakers added an employer tax credit this year, Indiana was one of 17 states with no child care tax credit of any kind. It also has fewer than 10 licensed childcare facilities for every 100,000 residents.
Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, who is the top-ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said he’s not surprised the report cited a lack of child care. He said that will lead to less talent available to the state as its children grow up.
“We don’t really have universal preschool programs. We don’t have enough money going into individual development accounts,” he said. “We play at it but we’re not really serious about it. That’s very unfortunate and that’s about building human capital for the future.”
Indiana shared the bottom of CNBC’s rankings with Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, and Louisiana, among others.
All of those states have enacted laws over the past couple of years prohibiting transgender youth from competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity and to prohibit transgender minors from obtaining gender-affirming medical care.
Indiana Youth Group CEO Chris Paulsen says she knows several families who have chosen to move out of Indiana as a result, and adds that Indiana will have a hard time attracting tech sector workers in particular if policymakers continue to target people over their gender identity or their sexual orientation.
“It’s not just LGBTQ+ people. It’s people who believe in fairness and believe that we should all be welcoming, and Indiana is not welcoming right now,” she said.
The report says crime and public safety is one area where Indiana excels. As for the childcare issue, Snideman says this year’s expansion of eligibility for the On My Way Pre-K program is one reason to be optimistic.
He says a new law expanding funding for counties that agree to provide a uniform set of public health services is a positive step as well.
Top Republican budget writers did not respond to News 8’s request for comment.