While the pandemic may dominate headlines again in 2022, there’s plenty that our state legislators can accomplish that’s unrelated to the virus.

The Indiana General Assembly convenes in January, and there are issues the legislature should tackle that could impact our lives for decades to come.

State lawmakers and Gov. Eric Holcomb garnered bipartisan praise in 2021 for dedicating more funds for school districts, allowing our educators, bus drivers and other school personnel to receive pay raises.

Our lawmakers must continue to address pay in public schools. Many districts are grappling with staffing shortages, and while pay isn’t the only issue, it certainly is at or near the top of the list.

It’s critical to retain top-notch educators. It’s one of the wisest investments in our future our legislators can make.

Considering the future, our executive and legislative branches must work to secure, enhance and entice clean energy operations and investments. No, coal isn’t disappearing anytime soon, but supporting innovation and development in solar, wind and other forms of clean energy will put Indiana in an enviable position moving forward. It will also protect future Hoosiers, providing them with cleaner air and water sources.

While our state has prioritized tax breaks for companies, especially large corporations, more help is needed for smaller businesses. Many are hanging on by a thread, dealing with blow after blow during an unprecedented time. Any help our state officials can provide small businesses will be paid back in the form of jobs and investment in local communities.

Labor was an issue in Indiana before COVID-19 became a household term, and it will continue to be an obstacle for the foreseeable future. Our state is blessed to have workforce development programs that are helping to train Hoosiers and place them on successful career paths. But the problem that frequently arises is lack of child care. State decision-makers should focus on ways to increase child care options and reward employers who provide such services for workers.

More than anything, we need leadership. We need less bickering and more understanding. Bipartisanship is a popular word, but it’s not a common practice. It’s unlikely the GOP supermajority will bend much to Democrats’ wishes in the legislature, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have decorum.

And as Hoosiers, let’s hope that our legislators are successful. Regardless of political affiliation, we can prosper or fail based on their decisions.
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