If we don’t lead, we are making the choice to follow. I choose to lead.
On The Issues
Increased Employment and Job Training
The workforce in Northwest Indiana is willing and eager to work. However, they need more support. I believe that the area needs more training and educational opportunities in segments of the workforce that offer meaningful and long-term employment. We must encourage the growth of local small to mid-size businesses and larger industries that will sustain this job creation. There must be a greater variety of jobs that match the talents our diverse workforce has to offer. There must be greater communication between the job creators and the educators and trainers. This goal, when pursued, will strengthen the workforce and the economy throughout Northwest Indiana.
Attracting Business to the 1st District of Indiana
My goal is to encourage the growth of business in Northwest Indiana. We know that business is attracted by a business-friendly environment. This environment must offer a ready and trained workforce, close proximity to transportation for both workers and shipping of goods, and an ecommerce network that is well-supported. We need to encourage tech companies and internet business developers to look to Northwest Indiana as a productive location. Tax incentives must be used strategically to encourage growth and development.
Special Focus: Tech Start-ups
My plan encourages the growth of start-ups by partnering with engineering, medical, and other schools whose graduates are looking for entrepreneurial opportunities. We must seek out local venture capitalists that are willing to invest in these technology start-up companies. Some areas have setup “incubators” with mentors and shared offices. Grants and special tax incentives may also be appropriate.
Improved Transportation Throughout Northwest Indiana
This District needs improved and expanded transportation. Most of the travel throughout the first district takes place in a single vehicle. There has been a great deal of discussion over the years as to how to improve travel throughout the area, yet little has been actually accomplished. It is imperative that alternate forms of travel be developed. Traveling from the south portion of the District to the South Shore Line train in the north portion of the District is near impossible without a vehicle. We must encourage development of private ride-sharing that is safe and reliable.
Rebuilding Our Declining Infrastructure
Nearly all federal spending for highways and infrastructure occurs through grants to state and local governments, and historically less than half of the funding has been tied directly to the amount of travel on the roads. This is where our tax dollars must be returned to Northwest Indiana. We must consider ways to increase the productivity of this highway spending by allocating this funding on the basis of benefits and costs and linking the funding more closely to performance. Our expressways in Northwest Indiana, and the major roads that link the expressways to our communities endure a staggering amount of truck travel, which is heavily wearing on our roadways. District 1 is a major conduit for commerce throughout the upper Midwest area and it deserves the federal contributions necessary to support the maintenance and rebuilding of our declining infrastructure.
Student Loan Debt and the Effect it is Having on Our Economy
I am concerned about student loan debt and how it is affecting our young people and young professionals, essentially making it difficult for them to establish themselves. Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt. There are about 44 million borrowers who have student loan debt. This amounts to $620 billion more than the total credit card debt in the United States. Economists have found that because they are paying sizable payments monthly toward their student loan debt, they are not able to spend that money on economy-driving goods and services. It also prevents them from entering the housing market, saving money, or investing money. Finally, it keeps them from starting businesses. This will have a negative effect on our economy.
Improving Healthcare Availability
I believe that health care must be available for all Americans and that increasing competition and offering various options will make health care more affordable. There should be customizable plans offered so that an individual may choose only catastrophic care, or only emergency care, add obstetrical and gynecological care, or other options. This would allow individuals to tailor a health care plan, knowing their own needs and their own budget. The lack of competition in the health care industry has made health care difficult for some to afford. It is a sad situation when a family has to declare bankruptcy due to excessive medical bills that are beyond their financial means. There should always be options available to provide health care to American citizens.
Special Focus: Mental Health Care
It is imperative that we improve access to treatment and care for mental health concerns. Early identification and intervention is vital. We must address mental health concerns before they reach the level of crisis or tragedy. We must develop a more coordinated effort to help individuals who have mental health concerns. Too many people who have mental health problems find themselves involved in criminal matters. Incarceration of people with mental health issues is a tragedy in itself.