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Mr. DONNELLY. Madam President, one of the best parts about this job is getting the chance to talk to Hoosiers here in Washington, back home in Indiana, and, on those special occasions, a chance to see our Hoosiers when they are serving our country overseas.
When I was visiting our servicemembers in Afghanistan in Khost Province in July 2009, I asked our Indiana National Guard members if there was one thing I could do for them, what would that be? I expected them to tell me about safety vests or about new trucks. They said, JOE, we have this handled here. What we need more than anything is a chance to have a job when we get home. We owe our servicemembers that opportunity.
From Hoosiers serving our Nation in Afghanistan and around the world to the communities of Vincennes and Madison and Plymouth and Gary, the message is the same everywhere. It is about jobs, and the chance to go to work and take care of your family. So how do we take the Hoosier commonsense approach, focus on jobs and create the conditions needed for our people and our businesses to succeed?
I propose an opportunity agenda. Government doesn't create jobs; businesses create jobs. So let's create the opportunities, help put the conditions in place for our businesses in Indiana and around the country to be able to create more jobs, put the programs in place for all of the American people to be ready to hit the ground running on day one. Because if we don't have a job, nothing else works. We can talk about health care, we can talk about climate change, we can talk about any other issue, but if we don't have the chance to go to work and earn a living and take care of our family, nothing else works.
That is why earlier this month I conducted a series of roundtable meetings in eight different Hoosier communities trying to get ideas from Hoosier businesses, community leaders, and educators, asking one simple question: How can we help our entrepreneurs, our small business owners, the men and women who go to work every day, how can we help them create more jobs? So in creating an opportunity agenda built on Hoosier common sense, I heard loudly and clearly: The place to start is with education and with training.
In every community I went to, I heard about the skills gap: jobs that are currently going unfilled--opportunities that are there for the taking but we have to have workers who have the skills our employers need. Getting a job is a two-way street. Both Hoosier companies and Hoosier workers have responsibilities. We can't expect a good job and good pay if we don't bring some skills to the table.
I heard from a welding trainer in Gary, IN, from an IT company in Noblesville, and from rural health care providers in Terre Haute, IN, and the message was the same, and it resonates across the board and across the State: Employers need more skilled workers. Good skills equal good jobs.
That is why I helped introduce the bipartisan AMERICA Works Act, which modifies Federal training programs to place a priority on those programs and those certifications demanded by today's businesses and today's industries.
The improvements in this bill are a benefit for both workers and employers. Workers would know the time they spend training is more likely to lead to a good job. For employers, they will be more likely to hire people they know have the training they need to be productive the moment they walk in the door.
We also have to make sure our businesses do not get overwhelmed by regulations. In Fort Wayne I heard about businesses dealing with too many regulations that don't make any sense for their particular industry. It is time to get rid of the bureaucratic mess and to keep what works. Regulations should be like the umpire on the field: Make sure everyone is playing by the rules, make sure the rules are common sense, and then stay in the background. Regulations should protect the health and safety of our families and our workers while not creating unnecessary burdens for our business owners.
Further, the regulatory system should give businesses the certainty they need to plan for the future and the ability to compete with anyone anywhere in the world.
We need to go all-in on American energy. This helps our businesses, helps our families, and helps national security. I was in Lawrenceburg, IN, a beautiful town right along the Ohio River. When I was there, I heard of one of the companies located there, a trucking company, that is trying to turn their fleet into a natural gas fleet. They are interested in making that transition, but the front-end costs are high and the infrastructure isn't in place yet. So developing American energy sources makes sense for American business, makes sense for our families, and makes sense for national security.
Let's keep more of our hard-earned dollars in Indiana--or in Wisconsin, the home State of the Presiding Officer--by investing in homegrown energy including solar, coal, wind, oil, natural gas, biodiesel, ethanol, nuclear.
We are blessed with an abundance of energy right here in America. It makes us stronger, creates jobs, reduces our debt, and gives us a chance to make our Nation safer.
I support projects such as the Keystone Pipeline because it creates jobs, puts people to work, and has significant bipartisan support. That is an example of a commonsense investment in domestic energy that both sides of the aisle can support.
These are just a few of the ideas I have gotten from people who are creating jobs, running businesses, meeting payroll, employing our neighbors, and growing our businesses all across Indiana.
There is a whole lot more wisdom in Washington, IN, than there is in Washington, DC. A big reason for this is because Hoosiers, as many Americans, are focused on just getting things done, working together. It is not about partisanship, and it is not about politics. In Indiana it is about common sense and trying to solve the problem. It is about an opportunity agenda that creates jobs for hard-working people and a good life for their families. That is what it is all about.
Here is what I am about: taking the best ideas from both parties, both sides of this Chamber, and getting things done--starting with jobs. As Hoosiers, we do not care if you are a Democrat; we do not care if you are a Republican; we care if you are ready to go to work on what matters most.
We make decisions based on what is best for our families. We take pride in making the checkbook balance and making tough choices necessary to make that possible. We expect the same from our government. Keep taxes low, cut waste, and do not throw more money at the problem. Just try to solve the problem.
Hoosiers are hard working. We do not want a free lunch; all we want is a fair shake. We believe respect is earned through the sweat and the hard work we put in every single day. We do not expect to receive anything we have not earned.
Hoosier common sense tells us that our families are all better off when we have stronger communities and more opportunities for businesses and workers. We take care of our brothers and sisters in need, not with a handout but by providing them with the opportunity to work hard and to build a better life.
We have a proud tradition of Senators from Indiana who have embodied these principles of Hoosier common sense: from Senator Lugar's decades of leadership in matters of commonsense foreign policy, his leadership in saving over 100,000 Hoosier auto jobs, and his constant efforts on behalf of Indiana's farmers, from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River; to Senator Birch Bayh's tireless efforts to expanding voting rights and equality for women through his efforts on title IX; to Senator and Vice President Dan Quayle's bipartisan efforts to pass job training legislation; to Senator Evan Bayh flexing his independence and his passion to get our fiscal house in order; and to my current colleague, Senator Dan Coats, in his efforts to keep our Nation safe.
The people of Indiana expect their leaders to put Hoosier common sense ahead of partisanship. We expect our Senators not to be the loudest people in the building but the hardest working people in the building, and in my case to make my job about making sure I am looking out for their jobs.
I am honored to be here in this Chamber working every day--not because I work for anybody here; I work for everyone back home. That is my mission, that is my job, and I am incredibly privileged to do that.
God bless Indiana. God bless the United States.
Madam President, I yield back.
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