INDIANAPOLIS (WLFI) - Indiana Governor Mike Pence (R) can sum up his plan for Indiana in a single phrase: "We want to go from good to great."
Just as he promised during his campaign, Pence said his number one priority in office is creating jobs.
"We want Indiana to be known everywhere as the state that works... where our economy is working, where our schools are working for all of our kids and where safe streets and strong families really become the hallmark of every community in this state," said Gov. Pence.
When asked about how Lafayette fits into his economic plan, Pence said he was pleased with what he learned during a recent trip.
"Lafayette and really all of Tippecanoe Co. are an example of a city (a pair of cities) and a county that works. There's a lot of excitement happening in that area," he said.
Pence said colleges like Purdue make other states envious. He went on to mention how the integration in Tippecanoe Co. between higher education and the private sector makes the area attractive. Pence explained that we as a state need to build upon that integration to prevent the brain drain.
"We want to create an environment where those men and women who are coming out of school, that have the big talent and the strong talent, end up saying they want to stay in Boiler Country," said Pence.
Reporter: "Do you expect many job announcements in the Lafayette area in the next four years?"
Gov. Pence: "I'm very hopeful we'll have more good news in Tippecanoe Co. and really, all 92 counties."
Pence cites the fact Indiana's fiscal house is in order. Also, although critics like union workers and some public education officials would disagree, he credits Indiana's "right to work" status and expanded educational opportunities like the school voucher program, as reasons why the state is primed for new investments.
"People are talking about the Hoosier State," he said with a smile.
Pence said he is grateful for the progress Indiana has made, giving credit to his predecessor and now Purdue University President, Mitch Daniels. Pence isn't satisfied though with keeping the status quo.
"We can do better," Pence said.
Pence said improvements are needed in some areas, the Department of Child Services, for example. In his "State of the State" address, Pence said he wants to increase spending to the department by $35 million, in part, to increase staffing.
"Our administration is determined to identify resources and reforms that will equip our caseworkers, equip local officials with the information to become involved at the appropriate time when there are kids who are at risk."
The governor also addressed another point he made during his "State of the State" address: childhood poverty. Pence said the fact that more than 20 percent of Hoosier children live below the poverty level is unacceptable. Making certain families in crisis have access to resources to help lift themselves out of poverty is a focus of his economic agenda. Also, Pence said there is an undeniable relationship between childhood poverty and unmarried childbearing.
"We're just determined to work to promote policies that will encourage more young people to get married, to stay married and to wait to have kids until they are married," he explained.
Pence said he was honored to serve Indiana on Capitol Hill. He paused when asked to reflect on where he sits now, in the governor's office.
"I'm just a small town boy from southern Indiana who grew up with a cornfield in my backyard. I dreamed someday of being in public service but I never dreamed I'd have the opportunity to lead this state as governor and I am truly humbled by that."
Pence said he is ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead.
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