Chamber Testimony in Support of Pre-K Expansion Given to Interim Committee

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The Indiana Chamber submitted testimony Wednesday to the Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy regarding the state-supported expansion of pre-K for children from low-income families. Below is that testimony from Caryl Auslander, the Indiana Chamber’s vice president of education and workforce development:

“I am honored to serve for the Indiana Chamber, but the most important role I play right now is that of being a Mom to two school-aged kids. My youngest started pre-K this fall and she is off to an amazing start to her educational career. But there are thousands of four-year-old Hoosier children from low-income families that are not as fortunate. They risk starting school with a bigger disadvantage of being behind and not being ready to learn.

First and foremost – we would like to thank the Indiana General Assembly. Two years ago, Indiana became the 42nd state to offer direct state aid for preschool tuition to at-risk children. As you know, this pilot program (On My Way Pre-K) provided $10 million for vouchers provided to four year old children in five counties (Allen, Lake, Marion, Jackson and Vanderburgh).

Fast forward two short years later, we are thrilled that both gubernatorial candidates, both superintendent of public instruction candidates and legislative leaders of all four caucuses have committed to making pre-K a priority this upcoming legislative session. But we know that the breakdown comes from the details on the plan and how exactly to pay for it. The Indiana Chamber has been working hard in the interim as a part of the AllIN4PreK coalition focusing on pursuing several key policy points:

  • We are promoting expanding the pilot program to include more 4 year olds from low-income families across the state
  • And if we are going to spend state dollars – we need to do it wisely. These pre-K programs must be high-quality – levels 3 or 4 on the Paths to Quality rating system
  • And these programs need to be accessible to working parents – nearby where they live or work or on public transportation lines. Therefore we suggest supporting a mixed-delivery system – quality providers in centers, public schools, private schools, ministries and homes
  • We want to ensure that we continue data reporting requirements that are now in place within the pilot program to make sure our investments are providing positive results
  • And finally, we want to work with the Legislature to find an appropriate fiscal number to fund this program within the constraints of the budget and reflective of revenue forecasts. We recognize that this is a big investment but it is a worthwhile one – according to the Indiana Department of Education, our state spends nearly $32 million a year on kindergarten remediation and expanding the pilot program could significantly mitigate those costs

Kindergarten is now more like first grade due to the increased rigor of college and career-ready standards. It is imperative that children, specifically those without means, have access to quality early-childhood education to have them ready for kindergarten by the time they walk in the door. It is our hope that attending a quality pre-K program will mitigate the high costs of remediation and have students more prepared to learn in their educational career.

The Indiana Chamber has made expanding pre-K a priority for the 2017 session as we want to grow our own talented workforce in Indiana – and an important pathway to that is starting early with four year olds from low-income families and a quality pre-K program.”

Chamber Talks Policy at D.C. Fly-in

congressWe are fresh from our return from the Chamber’s D.C. fly-in last week. The group had a policy briefing, dinner with the Indiana delegation and successful meetings on Capitol Hill the following day.

To kick things off, the Chamber’s policy briefing covered trade, transportation funding and tax reform.

U.S. Assistant Trade Representative Ashley Jones of the White House Office of Trade briefed our group on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Per the Chamber’s federal position on the matter, we support the establishment of free trade agreements that create free and fair trade for the U.S. – including TPP. We support free trade initiatives because international trade touches all Indiana businesses – large and small – at some level. With Indiana being ranked in the top tiers in manufacturing, life sciences, agriculture, etc., trade is imperative to Hoosier businesses. Selling more manufactured Indiana goods and services around the world is a great way to create, maintain and grow Indiana jobs, help the business community and keep Indiana and the United States ahead of global competitors.

We know and understand that our entire membership is not 100% on board with TPP – and neither are the two major party presidential candidates or some in the Indiana delegation – but we are hopeful that some negotiations will allow for TPP to receive a congressional vote after the November election.

Dennis Faulkenburg, president of APPIAN (a transportation consulting and governmental affairs firm in Indianapolis) and chairman of the Chamber’s Infrastructure Committee, spoke to the group on transportation funding. He explained that it was important to thank the delegation for their support of the federal FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation), which passed last December. However, while the FAST Act provides funding through 2020, Congress did not enact a stable, long-term way to pay for highway infrastructure, instead transferring $70 billion from the General Fund to pay for the bill. As the Chamber has advocated before at the state level, it is imperative to have long-term sustainable funding for Indiana infrastructure. It is our hope that the next Congress will make this a priority.

Chamber President Kevin Brinegar gave the group an update on reforming the federal tax code. Kevin reminded everyone that a major overhaul is long overdue – as it has been nearly 30 years since the last major reform. Since that time, the code has been loaded up with hundreds – if not thousands – of new provisions. Overall, the current code is overly complex, unfair, anti-competitive and stifles both economic growth and job creation. Such a reform should include a lowering of the corporate tax rate from 35% (the highest in the world today) to 25% or lower; a lowering of the top personal income tax rate to 25% while reducing the number of brackets; elimination of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and estate tax; and adoption of a territorial system in which income earned overseas is not taxed twice. Kevin stressed the importance of letting our delegation know that we need to curb federal spending.

The group then enjoyed a dinner while meeting with and hearing from both Sen. Dan Coats and Sen. Joe Donnelly as well as most of our House members. Many spoke about the policies we highlighted earlier in the evening and about the 2016 election year and how historic it has become.

Thursday morning’s political briefing featured Jeff Brantley and Rob Engstrom, political experts from the Indiana Chamber and U.S. Chamber respectively. Both felt that in Indiana Republicans will likely keep their super majorities in the House and Senate. At the national level, Engstrom spoke about polling in the U.S. Senate race and in the 9th Congressional District and how he sees the momentum swinging to the Republicans, albeit noting still a tough road ahead.

The group then moved to meetings on Capitol Hill with the entire delegation or their staff representatives.

A special thank you to this year’s D.C. fly-in sponsors:

  • Zimmer Biomet – dinner sponsor
  • Allegion – breakfast sponsor
  • Build Indiana Council – hospitality sponsor
  • The Boeing Company, Duke Energy, Hartman Global IP Law, the Kroger Company, Old National Bank and Wabash Valley Power – event sponsors

“Zimmer Biomet is proud to be a longtime member of the Indiana Chamber and we were pleased to be a sponsor of this event, as we have been since 2012. … The event was an excellent opportunity for Zimmer Biomet and other Indiana businesses to tell our representatives and senators directly what we need to succeed.” – Stuart Kleopfer, Zimmer Biomet President, Americas

Employer Survey: Downward Workforce Trend Continues

More than half of respondents to a recent survey expect their workforces to grow in the next two years, but more of those employers continue to leave jobs unfilled and rank meeting talent needs as among their biggest challenges.

There were 671 respondents to the ninth annual employer survey, conducted by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and its foundation. WGU Indiana sponsored the survey, sent to Indiana Chamber members and customers. Participating companies included 58% with fewer than 100 employees and 27% with between 100 and 500 employees. Leading industries represented were manufacturing (21%) and health care/social assistance (11%).

While there were not dramatic changes from workforce results in recent years, several downward trends continued. Companies that left Indiana jobs unfilled in 2015 due to under-qualified applicants increased to 45% – compared to 43% and 39%, respectively, for the prior two years. In addition, 27% of respondents identified filling their workforce and meeting talent needs as ­­their biggest challenge. Another 49% categorized the talent needs as “challenging but not their biggest challenge.” The 76% total exceeds the numbers for 2015 (74%; 24% biggest challenge) and 2014 (72%; 20% biggest challenge).

This comes despite the percentage of respondents requiring an industry certification or occupational license for unfilled jobs declining from 27% in the 2015 survey to 16% in 2016. At the same time, the minimum requirement of a high school diploma increased from 34% to 39%.

On the other end of the education spectrum, more employers are also raising the bar. Employers requiring a bachelor degree as the minimum level for the unfilled jobs increased from 23% a year ago to more than 28% in 2016. This reaffirms the importance of moving the current workforce toward degree completion.

More than half (52%) of survey respondents indicated they do not offer tuition reimbursement. Of those providing the tuition assistance, only 11% of companies see at least 10% of their employees taking advantage of the benefit. This serves as a potential additional detriment to reaching the Outstanding Talent goals, particularly in elevating the skills of incumbent workers. Recent Cigna Corporation research shows a $1.29 return generated for each $1 investment in tuition reimbursement.

Additional results include:

  • Personal qualities (work ethic, responsibility, initiative) and critical thinking skills were cited as most challenging to find among job applicants and new hires at 63% and 54%, respectively
  • More than half (54%) of companies expect to grow their workforce in the next 12 to 24 months. Forty-one percent anticipate no change, with 4% seeing a decrease
  • Pending retirements continue to be a factor as 57% say up to 5% of their employees will be eligible to retire within the next five years (27% place the percentage of eligible retirees as high as 10%)

View the survey results at www.indianachamber.com/education.

The Indiana Chamber and its foundation, focused on providing research and solutions to enhance Indiana’s economic future, have resources to assist employers, job seekers and students.

IndianaSkills.com provides job supply and demand information both statewide and regionally. It utilizes current labor market data to help companies, prospective workers and students understand Indiana’s workforce landscape. Salary data, required skills and certifications, and creation of effective job descriptions are among the featured tools.

Indiana INTERNnet has been connecting students and employers for internship opportunities for 15 years. The easy-to-use web site, informative Intern Today, Employee Tomorrow guide and regional partnerships are supplemented by additional outreach programs.

The Indiana Vision 2025 plan measures Indiana’s progress compared to other states on 36 goals in the four driver areas of Outstanding Talent, Attractive Business Climate, Superior Infrastructure, and Dynamic and Creative Culture.

Telemedicine Movement Moving Forward in Indiana

Virtual doctor measures blood pressure

Our friends at Gibson Insurance posted a blog today about the advancement of telemedicine in Indiana. They also included comments from Indiana Chamber VP Mike Ripley:

Prior to March 21, 2016, Indiana was one of just a handful of states that had not legislatively addressed the subject of telemedicine. Meanwhile Illinois and Ohio currently have proposed telemedicine parity bills but nothing set in stone – and Wisconsin has no parity legislative activity at this time. Michigan’s laws went into effect in 2012 and Kentucky was well ahead of the game with legislation in 2000, but the first state to address telemedicine by law was actually Louisiana in 1995. 21 years ago?! Why was Indiana so late to answer the call?…

WHAT SHOULD INDIANA EMPLOYERS KNOW?
According to Mike Ripley, the Vice President of Health Care and Employment Law Policy at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, it was surprising the law was not passed sooner, as it had many supporters. Ripley explained that insurance carriers, employers, and health care providers were ready to embrace telemedicine technology, yet the stakeholders could not agree on exactly how it should work in the Hoosier state.
The competing interests that delayed the law were ultimately united when the stakeholders agreed that the standard of care for a virtual visit would have to be the same as the standard of care for an in-person visit. Once all parties were able to rally around this central concept, the bill passed swiftly through the legislature. The standards of care at the heart of the bill are yet to be clearly defined in terms of telemedicine, but you may read the specific language of Indiana’s House Bill 1263 to gain a better understanding of the law.
Although the issues around the standards of care continue to develop, the law clearly states a phone call is insufficient to satisfy the standard of care. We anticipate technology such as video chatting and Skype will be used to effectuate the provision of care by telemedicine. The law also addresses the types of maladies that may (and may not) be treated through telemedicine. In Mr. Ripley’s words, one easy way to remember what is fair game under the bill is “anything ending with ‘-itis’ – is permissible to treat via telemedicine.” The law prohibits narcotic prescribing and psychiatric services through telemedicine.

Furthermore, see our recent blog about the importance of telemedicine, and its potential impact on many quality of life factors.

New Addition: Indiana Technology & Innovation Council

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Technology companies are relocating to and growing in portions of Indiana. The mission of the Indiana Chamber’s new Indiana Technology & Innovation Council is to support and expand those efforts.

The Chamber will utilize its policy, political affairs, event planning, research, communications and financial resources in collaboration with tech company leaders and organizations. The Indiana Technology & Innovation Council opens the door statewide to those wanting to join Chamber members, who will receive these expanded benefits as part of their current Chamber dues investment.

Chamber members can participate in upcoming open discussions on policy and programming priorities. Two committees – Tech Policy, and Program and Trends – comprised of representatives of member companies will develop a specific policy agenda and programming that supports existing efforts.

Full details are available in this press release. Mark Lawrance (mlawrance@indianachamber.com), who recently returned to the Chamber as Vice President of Engagement and Innovation Policy, will be the lead staff person.

“We’re excited to partner with tech companies and their leaders,” states Lawrance, “while offering a statewide platform to expand Indiana’s growing tech success story.”

Ellis, Lawrance Bring Chamber Advocacy Team to Full Strength

lawrence ellisThe many programs and benefits of Indiana Chamber membership include the state’s deepest and most effective group of issue experts. That team welcomes two talented additions.

Mark Lawrance returns to the Chamber in the new position of vice president of engagement and innovation policy. That includes advocacy work in the areas of technology, economic development and infrastructure.

Greg Ellis begins his work May 31 as vice president of energy and environmental policy. His variety of public and private sector experiences, including serving as an administrative law judge for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission since 2010, will prove valuable in his work on behalf of Chamber members.

Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar leads an experienced lobbying team that also includes: Caryl Auslander, education, workforce development and federal relations; Mike Ripley, health care policy and employment law; and Bill Waltz, taxation, public finance and local government reform.

“The hard work that takes place in the summer and fall – Chamber policy meetings, interim legislative panels, individual meetings with lawmakers and more – leads to effective General Assembly sessions,” Brinegar says. “Chamber members will be well represented by these issue experts and the support team we have around them.”

2016 Legislative Returns on Indiana Chamber Investment

in chamberThe 2016 General Assembly saw the Chamber advocate for and achieve numerous public policy victories that will have a lasting positive impact on the state’s economy and the prosperity of its residents. Additionally, the Chamber defeated several measures that would have cost businesses over $200 million.

In total, the Chamber’s work yielded savings of $1.435 billion for Hoosier businesses OR $546 per employee. Specific savings are listed below by bill and subject matter, in total and per employee. Also noted is the indeterminable value of a vital policy area: education and workforce development; the majority of which cannot be quantified.

Business Savings:
$1.435 billion or $546 per employee

Civil Justice
– Reasonable and controlled increased medical malpractice limits (SEA 28):
$50 million; $19.02/employee
– Restrictions on legal practice known as “lawsuit lending”
(HEA 1127): $40 million; $15.21/employee

Economic Development and Infrastructure
– Supplemental distribution of local income tax for local infrastructure (SEA 67): $400 million; $152.13/employee
– Short-term road funding and allowance for additional Regional Cities initiative (HEA 1001): $300 million; $114.10/employee
– Defeated – Unreasonably high data breach fines (HB 1357): $10 million; $3.80/employee

Employment and Labor
– Prohibition against ordinances restricting employee scheduling (SEA 20): $75 million; $28.52/employee
– Defeated – Option for prevailing wage (SB 319 and SB 346): $50 million; $19.02/employee
– Defeated – Mandated paid leave policies (HB 1139 and HB 1328): $30 million; $11.41/employee
– Defeated – Mandated increases in minimum wage (HB 1265): $25 million; $9.51/employee
– Defeated – Loss of business license for employing unauthorized aliens (SB 285): $25 million; $9.51/employee
– Changes to unemployment insurance procedures (HEA 1334): $20 million; $7.61/employee

Energy and Environment
Long-term water infrastructure maintenance funding (SEA 257 and SEA 383)
$100 million; $38.03/employee
More efficient solid waste handling (SEA 256 and SEA 366) $20 million; $7.61/employee
Underground tank remediation fund (SEA 255) $10 million; $3.80/employee
Planning future water usage needs (SEA 347) $10 million; $3.80/employee

Health Care and Insurance
– Prescribing authority for telemedicine (HEA 1263): $80 million; $30.43/employee
– Codification of Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 (SEA 165) $70 million; $26.62/employee
– Defeated – Mandated health insurance coverages (SB 370) $25 million; $9.51/employee
– Defeated – Provisions for prescription drug requirements (HB 1390) $25 million; $9.51/employee

Taxation
– Repeal and replacement of commercial assessment mandates (HEA 1290)
$40 million; $15.21/employee
– Defeated – Egregious income tax reporting provisions (SB 323) $30 million; $11.41/employee

Total Savings for Indiana Business: $1.435 Billion
Total Savings Per Employee: $546

Your Return on Investment
10 employees = savings of $5,460
25 employees = savings of $13,650
50 employees = savings of $27,300
100 employees = savings of $54,600
200 employees = savings of $109,200
500 employees = savings of $273,000

Plus the Value of Education and Workforce Development Initiatives:
The Indiana Chamber also played a leading role in the development and passage of important education and workforce development legislation. While difficult to quantify the specific fiscal impact of these changes, we know from economic research, economic development professionals, site selection consultants and our own membership the importance of these matters to the cost of doing business. Thus, we note the important accomplishments in education and workforce development as a significant – albeit unquantifiable – return on investment.

IMPORTANT NOTES: Business impact calculations are based on fiscal impact estimates of the Legislative Services Agency, independent studies, other available data and research materials, and Indiana Chamber analysis. Business impact per employee is calculated by using the estimated number of employed workers statewide in March 2016 (2,629,300).

Chamber Welcomes New College and Career Director; Auslander Adds Federal Duties

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has a new director of college and career readiness initiatives. Shelley Huffman previously worked for the Indiana State Budget Agency, Office of the Governor, under two administrations and was responsible for the funding oversight for the Indiana Department of Education.

Huffman is also a former business development strategist for Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis and served as a governor’s fellow to the Commission for Higher Education before joining the private sector. She brings a background in project management and fiscal and strategic planning in both education and business.

Huffman will be in charge of the Indiana Chamber’s college and career readiness initiatives and related workforce strategies, with the goal being to “assist employers in engaging, educating and elevating their workforce,” says Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “That’s one of the most critical tasks facing our state. We welcome Shelley and look forward to her helping us continue to make strides on that front.”

The Indiana Chamber has been a steady and visible leader in this area with its programs, advocacy efforts and reports – highlighted by the Indiana Vision 2025 long-range economic development plan that puts a premium focus on the workforce.

A Fishers resident, Huffman earned her MBA from Butler University and bachelor’s degrees in business and political science from Ball State University.

Businesses and others interested in more information about the Indiana Chamber’s workforce programs can contact Huffman at (317) 264-7548 or at shuffman@indianachamber.com.


CarylAuslander-smallSeparately, the Indiana Chamber has announced that Caryl Auslander, the vice president of education and workforce development, also will now be handing the organization’s federal affairs and lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C.

A Hoosier native, Auslander spent significant time in the nation’s capital before returning to Indiana, including three years on the staff of then U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and several years as a federal lobbyist. More recently, Auslander led federal advocacy projects for the Indianapolis-based firm, The Corydon Group.

“Caryl already has strong relationships with many members of Indiana’s delegation and a real passion for this work,” offers Brinegar. “In this role, she will serve as the staff liaison for the Indiana Chamber’s Congressional Affairs Committee and work with Indiana’s congressional delegation on key issues that impact Indiana businesses and their employees.”

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has a new director of college and career readiness initiatives. Shelley Huffman previously worked for the Indiana State Budget Agency, Office of the Governor, under two administrations and was responsible for the funding oversight for the Indiana Department of Education.

Huffman is also a former business development strategist for Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis and served as a governor’s fellow to the Commission for Higher Education before joining the private sector. She brings a background in project management and fiscal and strategic planning in both education and business.

Huffman will be in charge of the Indiana Chamber’s college and career readiness initiatives and related workforce strategies, with the goal being to “assist employers in engaging, educating and elevating their workforce,” says Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “That’s one of the most critical tasks facing our state. We welcome Shelley and look forward to her helping us continue to make strides on that front.”

The Indiana Chamber has been a steady and visible leader in this area with its programs, advocacy efforts and reports – highlighted by the Indiana Vision 2025 long-range economic development plan that puts a premium focus on the workforce.

A Fishers resident, Huffman earned her MBA from Butler University and bachelor’s degrees in business and political science from Ball State University.

Businesses and others interested in more information about the Indiana Chamber’s workforce programs can contact Huffman at (317) 264-7548 or at shuffman@indianachamber.com.

Separately, the Indiana Chamber has announced that Caryl Auslander, the vice president of education and workforce development, also will now be handing the organization’s federal affairs and lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C.

A Hoosier native, Auslander spent significant time in the nation’s capital before returning to Indiana, including three years on the staff of then U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and several years as a federal lobbyist. More recently, Auslander led federal advocacy projects for the Indianapolis-based firm, The Corydon Group.

“Caryl already has strong relationships with many members of Indiana’s delegation and a real passion for this work,” offers Brinegar. “In this role, she will serve as the staff liaison for the Indiana Chamber’s Congressional Affairs Committee and work with Indiana’s congressional delegation on key issues that impact Indiana businesses and their employees.”

Brinegar: We Commend INDOT on I-69 Route

i69The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced today that the preferred route for Interstate 69 section 6 between Martinsville and Indianapolis is the State Road 37 corridor. Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and Hoosier Voices for I-69 Chairman Kevin Brinegar offers his comments:

“We support INDOT’s decision that the State Road 37 corridor is the best alternative for completing the I-69 extension and it will be the best investment for Hoosiers. The corridor requires far less new construction than the alternatives, impacts the fewest homeowners and has the most consensus among all interested parties.

“We commend INDOT on the thorough selection process and the analysis used to come to this decision.

“While we’ve made much progress on the I-69 extension – most recently with the opening of Section 4 in Greene and Monroe counties in December – there is still much to be done from the Bloomington area up to Indianapolis. The state must remain committed to funding this important project and seeing it through to completion.

“In the not-too-distant future, I-69 will run continuously from Evansville to Fort Wayne and beyond. That will provide many more Hoosiers with better road access, leading to reduced travel time. And that also is very attractive for businesses, making Indiana an even more viable hub for companies and new jobs.”

Chamber-Supported Clean Power Amicus Brief Filed in D.C.

36886821The Indiana Chamber joined 166 other state and local business associations from 40 different states in an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. last Tuesday. Circuit explaining the devastating economic impact posed by the EPA’s carbon regulations.

The lawsuit, which will be considered by a federal appeals court this summer, involves EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” rules, which aim to reconfigure state electricity systems. It is expected to be a landmark case that could shape Indiana’s energy and economic
future.

In issuing these regulations, the EPA purports to have discovered the authority to regulate how states generate, transmit and use electricity, without any authority from Congress to do so.The coalition’s brief outlines major legal and economic concerns with the rule, arguing that EPA has trampled on the rights of states to determine their own energy mix and implement environmental standards in a manner tailed to their own circumstances.

The availability of affordable electricity is a key feature of keeping America competitive in a global economy.The brief explains that EPA’s challenged rule will pose significant harm to regional and local communities, particularly in economically challenged rural areas.

Affordable, reliable energy provides our members a critical advantage in today’s intensely competitive economy. If the courts uphold EPA’s rule, that advantage could be lost and American consumers will be left footing the bill, leading to adverse ripple effects throughout the economy, which will threaten individual businesses, countless jobs and entire communities.

By prematurely and unnecessarily forcing power plants to close, EPA’s regulation will result in higher costs for electricity and all the goods and services that depend on it, which means less money remaining for health care, food, education and other critical needs.

The Indiana Chamber’s brief echoes the call from nearly 160 challengers that have filed suit against EPA, including 27 states, and a host of business, labor and consumer groups.

A decision in the case is likely to be issued by the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit later this year. From there, the challenge is expected to make its way to the Supreme Court, which has ordered EPA to halt all implementation and enforcement actions on the rule until it has the opportunity to consider the case.