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Governor Mike Pence joined legislative leaders at a local child care ministry Thursday to sign into law a pre-K pilot program that will provide vouchers for early childhood education. It was a key piece of the Governor’s legislative agenda for 2014, and an issue that House lawmakers have also tried to move forward on in recent years.

But the pilot program was nearly derailed in the Senate, which decided to form a study committee to look into the issue instead, before an agreement was finally reached to form both a study committee and launch a pilot program this year.

The compromise measure allows for a pilot program, using up to $10 million in existing state funds that were left unspent. It also mandates that the state conduct a study tracking students to determine their progress in kindergarten and later grades.

“I think we’re doing it in a fiscally responsible way, I think we’re doing it in a way where we can learn from this process,” said Gov. Pence.  “I just thought it was very important that we start this process with a pilot program and I made that clear.”

“It is a big day,” said House speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis. “It’s a big day for Hoosiers, it’s a big day for our most at-risk families, and for our future.”

The governor will also attend a bill signing ceremony for House Bill 1002 on Thursday. Lawmakers approved the plan to fund major road construction projects across the state after a House-Senate conference committee came to terms on a compromise, which would release $200 million in funding, with an option to spend other $200 million on roads in the near future.

“I called for freeing up all $400 million and I actually thought the General Assembly came up with a good compromise,” said Pence.

Facing a deadline at the end of the day Thursday, the governor also decided not to take action on a bill that brings the Energizing Indiana program to an end, thus allowing the bill into law without his signature.

Lawmakers passed the bill this year, citing concerns about the cost and benefit of the program, which was created by former Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Pence issued the following statement after allowing the bill into law without his signature:

“As such, I was disappointed that the General Assembly chose to eliminate the energy efficiency program established by the previous administration without offering a viable alternative. For that reason, I have declined to sign this bill and acknowledge that this bill will become law without my signature.

“I could not sign this bill because it does away with a worthwhile energy efficiency program. I could not veto this bill because doing so would increase the cost of utilities for Hoosier ratepayers and make Indiana less competitive by denying relief to large electricity consumers, including our state’s manufacturing base.

“To ensure that Indiana’s energy policy continues to include sound efficiency programs that lower electricity usage and support economic growth, I am calling on the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to immediately begin to develop recommendations for a new energy efficiency program that would include an opt-out for large electricity consumers.

“In addition, I have informed leaders of the General Assembly of my actions and my intention to bring energy efficiency legislation during the 2015 legislative session. I look forward to working with legislators to develop a new energy efficiency program for our state that will encourage conservation and promote a strong Indiana economy.”