Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma plans to spearhead efforts to create a new statewide jobs council and give families scholarships so children can attend preschool as part of an agenda focused on fighting Indiana's stubborn unemployment rate by closing the state's "skills gap." The Indianapolis Republican laid out the details of the House Republican agenda for the first time Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press.
Lawmakers want to try to reduce the amount of residents who need advanced skills for manufacturing and other jobs that are already available in the state.
House Republicans will also seek $7 million a year to run a two-year pilot program giving scholarships to low-income families to cover the cost of pre-school. Early childhood education was a key theme in the governor's race last year, and Bosma pointed out that Indiana has one of the lowest enrollment rates for 3- and 4-year-olds in preschool. The money would pay up to $6,800 per child for 1,000 children to attend private programs and establish the Early Learning Advisory Committee to evaluate the program and report back to the state's Division of Family Resources.