TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — As July 1 marks the beginning of Indiana’s new $37.4 billion budget, lawmakers hope to stay competitive with nearby states. Some key areas of spending include Medicaid, public safety and major investments in K-12 education.
“We have to be fiscal, conservative. We have to make sure there’s enough money in case of a recession and we have to stick to a household budget. Our goal remains to improve the quality of life in Indiana,” State State Rep. Bob Heaton said
However, many tax payer dollars will also be used in assisting businesses impacted by COVID-19, while still creating larger scale economic opportunity.
“One way to do so is by investing in region economic development. You don’t just want to say here’s the boundary line so to speak. The intent is to have different regions, different counties working together trying to achieve their goal, whatever that may be,” he said.
$500 million will be set aside in Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (R.E.A.D.I.), to create multiple partnered projects to increase growth.
State Senator Jon Ford thinks larger developments could bring in investors.
“When businesses come into our community, their looking at a region, their workforce, their housing, for materials . They’re not just looking at counties anymore, it’s a region,” Ford said.
Small businesses will be able to benefit from a $60 million, Hoosier Hospitality Small Business Restart Program that aims to assist business still dealing with the after effects of the pandemic.
“Getting small businesses back on track is a priority, they are the back bones of communities. Whether there’s 10 employees or one, they can get help,” Ford said.
Ford adds West Central Indiana can benefit from available funds, he says he’d like to see improvements in adult education and workforce development.
“We hear a lot about housing, quality of life issues in terms of cultural programs. You know the goal will be create programs that really attract and maintain talent,” He stated.
Ford plans to run surveys regarding housing within the near future.
The Hoosier state plans to maintain and develop infrastructure. $250 million will be invested to broadband expansion as the state attempts to connect more residents.
“Especially in rural areas, it’s a big need. It’s very important to expand, so it’s good to see big investment,” Heaton said.
To get internet assistance communities will be responsible to find areas in need.
“They’ll probably look at potential projects in the areas. I think it’s going to be up to communities to come up with a great programs to get broadband,” Ford said.