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Gov. Holcomb speaks at South Bend luncheon

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

In his first visit to South Bend as the state’s leader, Governor Eric Holcomb provided a status update on what he’s calling his ‘Next Level Legislative Agenda.’

“We got here because of rooms like this,” said Holcomb, to a packed room at Notre Dame’s Morris Inn Friday afternoon.

Local mayors, school leaders and business owners all attended the luncheon hosted by the South Bend Chamber of Commerce.

“The Regional Cities Initiative is making a difference in the regions of South Bend, Fort Wayne and Evansville already,” said Holcomb. “It’s exhibit A, B and C.”

The governor came to South Bend to boast of early successes, but also to map out the 5-point plan he’s trying to get through the state government.

This week marked the halfway point of Indiana’s legislative session, where state lawmakers meet to hash out what projects and policies they want to pursue.

Holcomb’s goals include diversifying the economy, upgrading infrastructure, strengthening the workforce, attacking the drug epidemic and delivering great government service.

“We will take Indiana to that next level,” he said at the luncheon.

The governor also took part in a Q&A hosted by the chamber, where infrastructure was a hot topic.

Holcomb explained why he thinks his idea to double track the South Shore Line will attract young workers in Chicago to Indiana.

“Their dollar will go a lot further if they live here, on this side of the border, in Indiana,” said Holcomb. “And we’ll experience collateral benefits from that talent living here.”

He also discussed possibly raising the gas tax to help fund road repairs, but he said he’s looking into several options to help secure adequate funding.

The choice to present his progress report in South Bend is unique, but Holcomb said it’s part of his goal to be on the ground in all parts of the state.

“I have always loved not just traveling the state of Indiana and making myself accessible and transparent, but I feel like you learn just a whole lot more when you connect on the ground, around the state, and I don’t want to ever be tethered to the desk in Indianapolis,” said Holcomb. “So, we’ll make a habit of getting out and around the state when we make such announcements.”

The governor didn’t go into many specifics when asked how he hopes to accomplish some of the goals in his plan, but he did mention he’s been working closely with Michiana mayors – like Mishawaka’s Dave Wood and La Porte’s Blair Milo – to figure out what communities here in the northern part of the state need from his team.

Holcomb also sort of addressed the Indy Star report stating Vice President Mike Pence sometimes used a personal email address – that was once hacked –  for work while governor.

He didn’t respond directly to Pence’s situation, but Holcomb said he and his staff use their work email for work matters, and their personal email for personal matters.

He added that if anyone ever sends him a work-related message to his personal email, he flags it and has it recorded by the state, following the law.

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