This year has been unlike any other we've ever known, and we've been tested in once-unimaginable ways. Through it all, we've shown the world what a resilient, welcoming and big-hearted place Indiana truly is. That's why, even during these challenging times, we keep making progress as we work together to build One Indiana for All.
We've focused on important issues, and our actions are having real results. Record new job commitments, lowering infant mortality, fighting the drug epidemic, investing in our urban, rural and suburban centers, increasing teacher pay, expanding education and job-training opportunities, diversifying our economy – we've moved the needle in positive directions on all of these, and we're just getting started. Because, as the saying goes, “we didn't come this far to just come this far.”
There's more work to do, and that's why I'm asking you for the opportunity to serve four more years as your governor to keep the momentum going.
Tackling our challenges requires focus, experience, seriousness and hard work. It's those distinctly Hoosier qualities – hard work, determination, our never-give-up attitude – that will once again carry us through this “contagious season of uncertainty” and have Indiana in a position to come out of this current storm faster and stronger than many of our neighbors.
Before COVID-19, we set records for job creation, wages and international investment in our state. We made record investments in our roads and bridges through the only long-term, fully funded state infrastructure project in the nation. We made record investments in schools, rural broadband and community quality-of-place projects. In this time when telemedicine, tele-education and telecommuting have become a necessity, those investments are paying off big!
We did all this while balancing our budgets, keeping our taxes low, maintaining our AAA credit rating, and providing the continuity, stability and predictability job creators crave.
Of course, our momentum slowed because of the global pandemic, and there's not a single Hoosier who hasn't felt the impact of the virus. I know that if we continue to social distance, wear a mask and practice good hygiene, we'll keep our state open, keep more Hoosiers healthy and be firing on all cylinders again soon.
And for us to be firing on all cylinders, we must cultivate this new economic and societal terrain to become One Indiana that provides opportunity for all.
One Indiana For All means working together to overcome racial inequity.
Becoming One Indiana For All means getting Hoosiers back to work and connecting more Hoosiers with higher-wage jobs. It means attracting more business leaders, job creators and entrepreneurs.
It means taking a long look at some of the restrictions and regulations we set aside as a result of the pandemic to see which ones can go away permanently.
One Indiana For All means continuing to modernize your state government, making sure it is running efficiently for the taxpayers and eliminating those elements that are barriers to progress.
It means finishing I-69. It means tackling long-lingering health issues – head on. It means hitting our goal of being the best state in the Midwest for infant mortality by 2024.
We're on our way to achieving that goal. Earlier this month, I was proud to announce that Indiana's infant mortality rating is now the lowest it's ever been in recorded state history. When you add that to the news that Indiana is now the No. 1 state for adoptions out of foster care, you can see the measurable progress we're making. We're not done yet, but I'm thrilled more babies are celebrating first birthdays and more kids are finding loving forever homes.
One Indiana For All means using our time, resources and compassion to help ease the psychological toll these last few months have taken on Hoosiers. We know mental health is as important as our physical and fiscal health, and we need to work on all three.
There's no better teammate to help build One Indiana For All than our lieutenant governor, Suzanne Crouch.
Her leadership during this crisis has been extraordinary, especially to those sectors that have been among the hardest hit: our rural communities, agriculture and tourism. And her passion for helping Hoosiers with disabilities is improving lives daily.
We've done a lot together, been through a lot together and still have work to do. If you entrust Suzanne and me with four more years, we're going to accomplish that long “to-do” list by doubling down on our Indiana ethos, and marshaling the grit, determination and spirit Hoosiers are proudly known for around the world.
That's how we truly become One Indiana For All, strengthened by our regions, our diversity, our communities, our history and – most importantly – our people. We've risen to many challenges over the past 204 years and part of me feels like we're just getting started.
That's why I'm asking you to join us on this mission. Because if we want to keep Indiana open, if we want to tackle issues of social equity that have festered for too long, if we want to get our state at full employment again, if we want an even more efficient government, better-equipped schools, better roads, better technology and better health, we can't turn back now.
If we want to not only grow the highest-quality corn, livestock and timber, but also grow opportunities for more Hoosiers, we can't turn back now.
I'm asking you to join our team and do everything you can to make sure Indiana stays in the pole position.
Aside from wearing the uniform of the United States Navy, serving as your governor the past four years has been the greatest honor of my life. Lt. Governor Crouch and I are humbled by your support, and we're ready to keep the pedal to the metal for four more years because the best is yet to come.