Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

If job creation is priority No. 1 for lawmakers this session, job placement for veterans seems to be priority 1-A, with new legislation aimed at getting servicemembers back to work.

The unemployment rate for younger veterans – those of the post 9/11 era – is considerably higher than the rate for average Hoosiers. 

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

Ball State President Jo Ann Gora says the state’s funding formula for higher education unfairly favors some schools over others.

Gora says the state’s performance funding system is a one-size-fits-all structure that favors large and growing campuses.  She says schools like Ball State – which Gora believes has focused on quality, rather than quantity – are penalized. 

Indiana’s public universities are at the Statehouse this week to make their cases for increased funding.  

A common theme among the university presidents Wednesday was proving to lawmakers that their school is working to reduce the cost of college for its students.  Acting Purdue president Tim Sands said one of the ways the West Lafayette school aims to accomplish that is creating a more year-round schedule by increasing class offerings in the summer.

The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus says it will focus on improving child safety and fostering economic development in the current session.  Its members say the impact of their initiatives goes beyond the state’s minority communities.

House and Senate leaders say they’re looking forward to a less contentious legislative session than the past two years as the General Assembly convenes Monday.

The last two sessions saw sweeping education reforms, Right to Work, abortion bills and immigration measures that created significant conflict between Republicans and Democrats in the legislature. 

Now, the GOP holds a supermajority in both houses. 

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

A new proposal from Attorney General Greg Zoeller and a GOP state senator would help Indiana schools put more police officers in their buildings.

School resource officers are already present in somewhere between a quarter and a third of Hoosier schools. 

State revenues are expected to grow at a modest pace in the next few years.  That’s based on new forecasts unveiled Monday.  State lawmakers are still preaching caution as they head into a budget session.

Governor-elect Mike Pence announced Thursday he will make a leadership change at the state Department of Homeland Security. It’s the first Pence-appointee who comes from outside the Daniels administration.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s new director will be John Hill, replacing current director Joe Wainscott.  Hill was previously the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration as well as a former member of the Indiana State Police.  Pence said he’s grateful for Wainscott’s service but adds bringing in Hill was a unique opportunity.

After already breaking the state’s record for job commitments in 2012, nine more companies have pledged to create more than 2,500 jobs over the new few years in locations around Indiana.  Indiana secured those commitments despite offering some of the lowest tax incentives in the region.

Governor Mitch Daniels celebrated Indiana’s 196th birthday with hundreds of schoolchildren at a Statehouse ceremony Tuesday.  It will be the last Statehood Day Daniels takes part in as governor.

Students from schools around Indianapolis and Columbus participated in festivities at the Statehouse that included presentations from legislators, state Supreme Court Justice Steven David and the governor.  Daniels said Statehood Day is the best opportunity he sees to teach younger students about the history of Indiana.

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