By Megan Graham
Tribune business writer
Indiana Chamber president Kevin Brinegar talked about state government and the coming legislative session with Kokomo business leaders and local government officials at a breakfast Thursday morning. The “Eggs and Issues” event, hosted by the Greater Kokomo Chamber of Commerce Thursday morning at Casa Bella Banquet Hall, put statewide issues in local perspective. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is a business membership organization based in Indianapolis that advocates pro-business legislature.
“It’s really a good way to set the table going into 2013,” said Jeb Conrad, President & CEO of the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance. “We get a snapshot of issues that might be happening at the legislative level down in Indianapolis that would affect our community, our business environment and even all of us individually.”
Brinegar said a few issues will have particular weight in coming legislative sessions; namely Indiana’s unemployment insurance system, income tax cuts, education and preparing the state for a generation of skilled Baby Boomers to retire.
In November’s elections, Republicans secured or maintained quorum-proof majorities in the House and Senate with a record turnover of officials.
“Both Republican caucuses have a quorum-proof majority, which means that they can transact business on the floor of the House or Senate regardless of whether the Democrats show up or not,” Brinegar said.
He also said governor-elect Mike Pence will need to focus on “reintroducing” and “reengaging” technical skills as an aging workforce retires.
“We’re entering a period where many baby boomers are reaching retirement age,” he said. “In the automotive industry, particularly in Indiana, that’s a lot of people that have a lot of skills that we’re going to need to replace.”
Indiana will also need to find a solution to dwindling gas tax revenues as vehicles become increasingly fuel
efficient, Brinegar said. The Associated Press reported that the revenue from the tax collected on every gallon of gas purchased in the state has fallen nearly seven percent since fiscal year 2004. Brinegar said that revenue is necessary for infrastructure projects in the state.
“We have to have more than adequate infrastructure to move the raw materials and finished good in and out of [manufacturing] facilities,” he said.
The Indiana Senate and House reconvene Jan. 7, 2013.
Megan Graham is the Kokomo Tribune business reporter. She can be reached by phone at 765-454-8570 or by email