INDIANAPOLIS – In one-on-one interviews last week, Statehouse reporter Kristen Eskow spoke with Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston and State Rep. Greg Porter, ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, about the state of Indiana’s economy.
A report recently published by the Indiana State Budget Agency shows the state collected higher tax revenues than expected, particularly sales tax, despite data showing thousands of jobs in Indiana remain unfilled.
“Obviously very pleased,” Speaker Huston said of the data. “The economy’s running full steam right now. Talking to employers, the biggest problem we have right now is finding more workers. So that’s a great problem to have.
“But in the short term, we have to make sure we’re skilling up our workforce,” Huston said.
“We always projected that we would have more revenues coming to the state of Indiana,” State Rep. Porter said.
“So many times we kind of low-balled what our projections are. However we saw that trending way back in the last quarter of last year, more revenues coming to the city and to the state of Indiana,” Porter added, attributing the growth in consumer spending, in part, to the federal stimulus checks from the American Rescue Plan.
The numbers show the economy in Indiana is doing well, Porter said.
“We usually project about 5% growth,” he said. “At this point, it looks like through the federal government and the dollars that we receive from them, our economy is going to grow at least 7% or even more.”
We also asked Speaker Huston about some other issues in the news. He did not provide a response to Gov. Holcomb’s lawsuit against the General Assembly regarding the ability of the legislature to call itself into session.
When asked whether Indiana University’s vaccine mandate violates the state government vaccine passport ban, Huston said, “I think the attorney general made it clear that it does. House Bill 1405 prevented that. I think IU’s heard loud and clear from myself and many people from around the state and many people I’ve heard from that they have concerns with the policy that had been announced. IU’s began that process of walking that back.
“We’re making progress every day on the pandemic,” Huston added. “And cases are dwindling and so I think there’s a middle ground on all of this.”
On redistricting, Speaker Huston said a timeline is still being worked out regarding when the legislature will begin that process.
“We’ll begin doing statewide meetings and a listening tour sometime this summer to get people’s feedback on what they’d like to see, and we’ll follow the process that we followed in 2011 as we did redistricting,” he said. “We can’t set a timeline until we get the data.”
When asked about questions previously raised about the fairness of the process, Speaker Huston said he did not share those concerns.
“We will follow all federal and statutory laws and regulations around it,” Huston said. “I’m quite comfortable with it.”