|INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday, State Senator Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) announced a legislative initiative that he has authored for the 2015 legislative session. Senate Bill (SB) 513 would establish the “Hoosier Promise” program to provide two years of community college or technical training for high school seniors that participate in the program and m eet certain requirements.
“Our students need to be prepared for the jobs of the 21st century,” said Sen. Stoops. “This program aims to provide college affordability to students that seek postsecondary education or job training in growing industries.”
In 2013, Forbes ranked Indiana 16th among the states for business using six factors: costs, labor supply, potential growth, quality of life, government regulations and current economic climate. While Indiana ranks 2nd in terms of regulatory environment, Indiana ranks 45th in labor supply, or the availability of suitable human resources for potential labor markets.
A recent study by Ball State University estimates a sharp growth in the manufacturing, health care and transportation industries by the end of the decade, increasing the demand for skilled workers in Indiana. Senate Democrat Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) lauded the proposal by Sen. Stoops calling it a wise investment at the right time.
“We in the legislature have done a lot in recent years to ensure that businesses in Indiana are in a position to grow and succeed,” said Sen. Lanane. “But with the rise in demand for skilled workers we expect to see in the coming years, we need to make an equal investment in our future workforce.”
The program is modeled after a proposal in Tennessee that was signed into law by Republican governor Bill Haslam. The Tennessee program will provide tuition assistance to high school seniors to attend community college if they participate in the program for consecutive semesters, engage in a mentoring program, maintain GPA standards, and participate in community service. The estimated cost of Tennessee’s program is $34 million.
“Making an investment in our young people can help to close the skills gap in Indiana,” said Sen. Stoops. “By providing students the training they need to compete in growing job markets like manufacturing, health care and transportation, we can close the skills gap, lower unemployment and provide higher wages to a more skilled workforce.”
Sen. Stoops said that he and Senate Democrats hope that this proposal will receive support from both Republican and Democrat colleagues. He said he looks forward to working with legislators on both sides of the aisle in crafting this policy to improve higher education opportunities for Indiana students.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues across the aisle to address the very real issue of training a qualified workforce that Hoosier businesses need to succeed,” said Sen. Stoops.
President Barack Obama is expected to detail his proposal for free community college tuition tonight in his seventh State of the Union address.
Sen. Stoops represents Indiana Senate District 40, which includes portions of Monroe County, including the City of Bloomington. For more information on Sen. Stoops, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/S40.