FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne's NBC) -- As lawmakers prepare to draft new bills, Indiana's governor is setting his expectations and talks exclusively with Corinne Rose.
Will the governor push for better conditions for teachers?
What about money for road improvements along U.S. 30?
Governor Eric Holcomb touts 2019 as a good year, with a strong economy and large state investment in infrastructure.
"We're looking at about a 20-year, $60 billion paid for program," he says.
While it may not seem like it would impact northeast Indiana, the governor says the project to extend I-69 south from Indianapolis to Evansville will positiviely influence the entire state, and will open three years ahead of schedule -- now set for 2024 instead of 2027.
"I-69 is a major thoroughfare and a corridor in the country that will serve everyone along that whole route. It's going to benefit Fort Wayne when it's completed and every point in between," Holcomb says.
He encourages people to go online and look at the state's infrastructure investment for every county.
So what about improvements closer to home like U.S. 30?
Holcomb says the state will do traffic counts and safety studies, and called 30 a priority and valuable corridor, but he wouldn't commit to spending more specifically for U.S. 30 other than what's already been allocated statewide.
He does want to allocate resources to what he calls the sheer number of people struggling with despair that can lead to addiction.
He says best the way he's seen that work is with local roundtables that involve the courts, schools, law enforcement, and health care.
More to be done with the opioid crisis?
"Absolutely, absolutely. So we're not flying over the problem or generalizing the problem. Because what may be true in Terre Haute may be slightly different in Angola. And fortunately from the state perspective, we have the ability to take in all that data and then make decisions that will positively influence those who need it the most," he says.
As for education, and that massive Red for Ed rally last month that featured about 14,000 teachers and supporters on the lawn of the statehouse?
"What does that say to you, that so many that gathered supported that one cause? Well it underscores what we know and that is education is a priority at every level," Holcomb says.
The son of a public school teacher, Holcomb says he doesn't want teachers to leave schools for jobs in the private sector, even though he says the state already spends more than half of its total revenue on education -- which is why he says he set up the teacher pay commission to study the issue and make recommendations.
"I understand about the salaries, but what about issues that the legislature has imposed like additional hours for continuing education? Or tying student performance to how much money is allocated for schools or teachers?Those are some burdens as teachers would call it. I think they're tired of lip service and they want to see some action," Corinne Rose says.
"They're going to see some action. They're going to see some action, and you'll hear some recommendations from me incorporated into my agenda that I'll release next week. They've not only been heard, they'll be acted on," Holcomb replies.
The legislature's next budget session will begin in January of 2021.
Governor Holcomb will run for a second term next year.
Wednesday, the governor will host the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board.
It includes the CEOs of Apple, Walmart, Home Depot, VISA, IBM, and others.
They will meet to discuss the workforce demands that the country is facing, and learn about Indiana's programs that help educate and train people for the jobs of today and the future.