Indiana Daily Student

Holcomb promises COVID-19 relief, improved teacher pay in State of the State address

<p>Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks at a press conference at the Indiana State House in Indianapolis on Oct. 10, 2017. Holcomb delivered his 2021 State of the State address Tuesday.</p>

Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks at a press conference at the Indiana State House in Indianapolis on Oct. 10, 2017. Holcomb delivered his 2021 State of the State address Tuesday.

Gov. Eric Holcomb streamed his annual State of the State address at 7 p.m. Monday, discussing  plans to increase teachers’ pay, vaccinate Indiana residents and increase law enforcement transparency.

Holcomb reflected on the previous year’s achievements and his aspirations for the year ahead. The pre-recorded speech is usually given in front of a live audience.

“We are living in a time when practicing safety first has never been more important,” Holcomb said. “Through it all, Hoosiers have risen to meet these unprecedented challenges. The state of our state is resilient and growing.” 

Holcomb gave a moment of silence in honor of those who have died from COVID-19. He said over 9,000 Hoosiers have died from the virus in the past 10 months. He also thanked healthcare workers and law enforcement for their work during the pandemic.

Indiana will become one of the Midwest’s highest-paying states for teacher pay, Holcomb said. After making the same promise in his address last year, Holcomb had been criticized for not following through with raising Indiana teachers’ pay. Holcomb also commissioned a team to study the issue, but despite recommendations published in December, 2020, nothing has changed.

Related: [Read more coronavirus coverage here]

Holcomb said Indiana is in the position to reduce costs and increase revenues for K-12 funding by $377 million and restore higher education funding to $103 million after public universities faced budget cuts due to the pandemic in June

Holcomb also spoke about advancing policies in law enforcement and diversity. He promised steps to improve transparency in state services, such as outfitting police officers with body cameras, creating an online diversity data dashboard and completing an outside review of Indiana’s law enforcement academy and agencies.

He also announced a cabinet-level position of the chief equity, inclusion and opportunity officer to improve and report on diversity outcomes across the state.

Holcomb said the Indiana Economic Development Corporation will allocate recovery funds and resources to relieve businesses affected by the pandemic.

“While many Hoosiers have continued to do well during the pandemic, others have been hit hard,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb said 335,000 people 70 and older in Indiana have received or are scheduled to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. An additional 250,000 healthcare and front-line workers have also been scheduled to receive the vaccine.

Holcomb said infant mortality in Indiana is at its lowest level in history since 1900. When Holcomb’s 2020 budget was released, it included the My Healthy Baby program that aims to reduce infant mortality rates. The program connects pregnant women to guidance and support to ensure healthier outcomes for both mother and child.

Holcomb said the Department of Child Services has made a turn around, reducing the numbers of children in foster care. The total number of DCS cases has decreased by 30% since 2017. 

After Holcomb’s first year in office, a previous DCS director resigned after she felt she couldn’t provide for children in foster care due to budget cuts. Holcomb said Indiana was the top state for increased foster care adoptions last year.

“This has been a year like any other,” Holcomb said. “For Indiana, the future is now, and I’m more excited and eager than ever to build a state of opportunity for all Hoosiers.”

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