Indiana is making strides, but we still face a long road ahead to meet goals set by some of the state’s leaders.
The Indiana Vision 2025 Report Card came out recently, issued by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. It tracks our progress toward an overall goal set for 10 years from now:
“Indiana will be a global leader in innovation and economic opportunity where enterprises and citizens prosper.”
The “report card” does not give us grades in a traditional A through F format. It tracks our performance on a whopping 33 goals designed to help us reach the big goal.
Compared to two years ago, Hoosiers have moved forward in several areas, the report says.
Our schools showed significant gains in math and reading scores for fourth and eighth grades. Hoosier fourth-graders ranked No. 4 in the nation in math.
Our poverty rate improved from 35th to 12th in only two years. The report gives credit to the strong rebound of Indiana’s manufacturing industries coming out of the recession.
Indiana rates No. 1 in something called the “Regulatory Freedom Index” for businesses. It looks at protection from lawsuits, insurance and labor laws, among other things.
We’ve moved up in spending on research and development at universities (18th) and businesses (12th).
Our rate of adult smoking has dropped from 25.6 percent to 21.9 percent, although we still rank 39th among the states in that category. We also held steady at an embarrassing 42nd place in obesity with a rate of nearly 32 percent.
Hoosiers still have plenty of room to improve in other areas. The biggest challenge will be meeting the goal to offer “outstanding talent” to potential new businesses.
Indiana ranks 45th in the percentage of adults who hold an associate’s degree or higher — at 30 percent.
If we measure Hoosiers who have a bachelor’s degree or higher, it’s 24 percent, which ranks 42nd in the nation. We need to reach 29 percent just to match the national average.
“On education attainment, the goal is for 60% of residents with high-quality postsecondary credentials by 2025. Indiana’s 34.7% achievement as of 2013 shows how far the state has to go,” said Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
In a category that apparently matters to businesses as much as environmentalists, Indiana ranks only 39th in energy efficiency, according to the report card. Unfortunately, state leaders dismantled a statewide efficiency program this year, so we hope they intend to replace it with something better.
Indiana also ranks 40th in the percentage of households connected to broadband Internet — at 67 percent. The national average is 72 percent, with the leading states in the 80s.
Not every Hoosier may agree with the priorities of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. But it’s hard to argue that we’d be better off with more education, healthier lifestyles and more efficient use of energy.
When it comes to reaching the report card’s ambitious goals, we can’t expect Hoosiers to respond just by lecturing them. State leaders need to make it more convenient and affordable to continue our education beyond high school.
It’s in the best interests of all Hoosiers to get more training and better jobs. But a little encouragement would help us hit the books.
This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].