Lt. Gov. Skillman Visits the Summit City

By Rachel Martin

September 1, 2011 Updated Sep 1, 2011 at 5:38 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman visited the Summit City Thursday as part of her Hoosier Crossroads Tour. Indiana’s NewsCenter’s Rachel Martin sat down with her to talk about the state, the economy, and the State Fair tragedy.

Currently Lt. Gov. Skillman is on her Hoosier Crossroads Tour around Indiana. She visited the Fort Wayne Women’s Club Thursday morning to endorse Republican Mayoral Candidate, Paula Hughes. Lt. Gov. Skillman said she plans to visit all 92 counties and speak with local government leaders on ways to partner with State government. She said issues like revenue and how local governments can do more with less was a hot topic of discussion.

“Rarely do we sit together and talk about how we address it, how we provide better communication, how we get the community involved in some of these discussions and provide that important input.”

Lt. Gov. Skillman said many leaders have had creative ideas about partnership and efficiencies that will better serve Hoosier taxpayers in the long run. She said during the tour, she plans to create a list of recommendations that could be used when issues arise in the future.

An announcement was made Wednesday that the State will pay $5 million in liabilities to the victims of the State Fair stage collapse. Indiana law states $5 million dollars is the maximum liability amount.

“The victims of the tragedy indeed need to be compensated and medical expenses indeed need to be paid for…but this in no way prevents law suits from going forward…but the most immediate concern of course is caring for those who were hospitalized or looking after the families that have lost loved ones.”

Lt. Gov Skillman said she would not be surprised if legislatures raised the issue of possibly raising the liability amount. As far as the plans for concerts at the State Fair next year, Lt. Gov. Skillman said they are working with two private firms to review and provide reports to the State. A public safety and crisis management firm will review the response during the storm and gauge how it was handled. Another firm will examine the structure of the stage and the collapse to determine what should change, and whether more comprehensive inspections are necessary.

“I’m confident that when all that information has been presented to the state, we’ll sit down and take a look at it. The bottom line is we’ll do everything in our power to prevent something like this from happening again.”

Lt. Gov. Skillman also shared her plans to visit Japan in October on an International Trade Mission. Her goal is to try and bring more jobs to Indiana. Forty mayors, economic development professionals, and business leaders will accompany her. Currently there are 216 Japanese-based companies in the state that provide 38 thousand jobs. She plans to meet with company leaders and talk about growth potential.

“Now that we’re getting beyond tough times, we want to be able to surge forward once again. One of the easiest ways to do that is expand our state’s boarders. That’s why we continue to look outside of the United States for opportunities for jobs in Indiana.”

She said of the10 International Trade Missions she and Gov. Daniels have been on to 14 countries, all have been successful. The missions have either produced new company investments or export opportunities for Indiana. Lt. Gov. Skillman said looking for opportunities outside Indiana’s boarders helps to maintain the strong fiscal and economic state.

“It’s important to look at our natural strengths and assets.”




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