Indiana is in crisis. It wasn't always this way, and it doesn't need to be this way going forward.
We are in the midst of a global pandemic and in the early stages of an economic recession which is likely to last years. Our public schools are being starved of resources, and our students are suffering. Our teachers are worried and justifiably dissatisfied, forcing many to leave the profession. Our public health infrastructure is woefully inadequate with multiple health care indicators far below the national average.
Major disparities in health care outcomes heavily correlate to race. Violent crime, especially in our state's largest counties, has reached new records and is directly related to the proliferation of illegal guns and the disproportionate effects of our failing economy.
And to make it all worse, today we are deprived of many pleasures we used to enjoy such as going to the movies, rooting in person for our sports teams and, one of my favorites, hot buttered corn on the cob and a pork tenderloin sandwich at the Indiana State Fair.
Our problems are easy to diagnose. We need a government willing to implement the treatment. My prescription: New leadership.
We need new leadership in creating the jobs of the future, as well as jobs in clean energy with manufacturing solar panels and wind turbines to accelerate our departure from coal, Indiana's primary means of energy generation and a leading cause of climate change.
And we'll need to create incentives to help Indiana become the national leader in the production of personal protective equipment, still in short supply and with high prices, so we can protect our nurses, doctors and first responders in this pandemic as well as the next. And it is likely there will be a “next.”
These and other major innovations and initiatives will become my approach to creating new solutions for old problems. We'll begin this January, around the time we hope we'll hear an announcement that America's leading health care companies (including our own Eli Lilly) have developed both new treatments and a safe vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19 that, as of today, has prematurely ended the lives of more than 3,500 Hoosiers.
Our recovery must include prioritizing those programs with the highest track record of success in areas such as Indianapolis' Martindale-Brightwood, where I grew up. Programs like pre-kindergarten to get our children started on the road to success starting at age 4 instead of waiting for the state-mandated age 7.
We need to rapidly expand programs such as 21st Century Scholars, a scholarship program designed to incentivize seventh and eighth graders to do well academically and stay drug free in exchange for scholarships to Indiana colleges and universities.
My administration will also focus on the millions in state tax dollars wasted on vendors who never delivered on their outrageous and unverified promises. And we'll push hard for efficiencies in our state agencies where upgrades to information technology will improve services to taxpayers and save millions in the process. And we'll help Indiana municipalities purchase quality goods and services at the lowest prices.
We need new leadership because we are in crisis today because neither our nation nor our state prepared for, or reacted quickly, to COVID-19.
Scientists predicted something like this years ago; we simply didn't listen. I know we can do better, both as a state and as a nation – and that's why I decided to run for governor.
We haven't effectively nor collectively harnessed the wealth of talent in our universities and our successful companies, all of which are deeply invested in a rapid and successful recovery in this crisis. I'll change that.
And we haven't tapped into the wealth of scientific and public health expertise to optimize dispersal of COVID-19 testing resources and quick action on the results. We'll fix that, too. The more quickly we recover from the pandemic, the better the future we'll create for our children and grandchildren.
But our recovery must include those we've left behind in the past 16 years, and there are many. Hoosiers have been left behind in neighborhoods in Fort Wayne's southeast side, as The Journal Gazette wrote about last year. These are neighborhoods like the one that raised me: where more than half the families are living in poverty, where the cancer risk is higher and educational achievement is lower. It does not have to be this way.
Indiana and our nation can do so much better than what we see around us today. Government should lead, and the private sector and the public should be willing and eager partners for that leadership to succeed.
Elections have consequences. Indiana must soon answer the question: Who is your best choice to lead Hoosiers over the next four years? We must put Indiana back to work and at the same time prove that Indiana cares for those Hoosiers who truly need our help. I believe we can do both. Will you join me?