By Rick Fuson, president and COO of Pacers Sports & Entertainment
For decades, local and state leaders in Indiana have rightly allotted considerable energies to debates and discussions around education, higher education, and workforce preparation. This makes considerable sense. After all, if we want to attract and retain talent, compete for domestic and foreign investment, and ensure that communities across Indiana can thrive in increasingly competitive and complex economies, education must be our priority. And, simpler still, resources that support our school children, our teachers, and our schools change lives and transform communities.
That is why we at Pacers Sports & Entertainment are so proud and appreciative of the General Assembly and Governor Holcomb for their truly bipartisan efforts during the 2021 Legislative session to make record investments in education. These investments have the potential to be game-changing for Indiana and include $1.9 billion in additional funding over the biennium, a 4.5% increase in each year, and $600 million new dollars dedicated strictly to raising teacher pay. Legislators set political differences aside to keep education a priority, and this collaborative work demonstrates Indiana’s commitment to our students and will make it easier for school districts throughout the state to recruit and keep the very best teachers our children deserve.
Additionally, Indiana is already the very best in the Midwest and 4th in the nation in how much financial aid is provided to lower-income students to attend college, a demonstration of our state’s commitment to support families who need it most. The investments made by legislators of both political parties over the past five years to fund the powerful 21st Century Scholars and Next Level Jobs programs have meant generational change for thousands of Hoosier families and have helped jolt Indiana’s educational attainment rate closer to the 60% 2025 goal.
For companies like PS&E, which rely on a strong, educated workforce and resilient neighborhoods, these resources are critical. Addressing gaps in educational attainment is the first pillar in our own Social Justice Agenda, as we know education has the power to be an unmatched equalizer. This forward-thinking approach will certainly help to move the needle for those children most at risk of falling further behind.
Thank you to the entire General Assembly and Governor Holcomb for their continued commitment to building a Hoosier workforce that is among the best prepared in the country!