Senator Todd Young Discusses Legislative Priorities for the Manufacturing Industry

The Policymaker Profile series is a monthly article aimed at revealing to you, our members, the thinking of leading government officials on current policy issues. Each month we will introduce you to a leader whose duties have a direct bearing on the fortunes of the electronics manufacturing industry.

Featured in this month's edition is Senator Todd Young (R-IN). Senator Young is serving his first term as Indiana's junior senator. He is a member of the Committees on Foreign Relations; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Commerce, Science & Transportation; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

What are your top legislative priorities in Indiana? How will your plans benefit small- and mid-sized businesses?

Hoosiers want to ensure that we have a growing economy in which all can participate meaningfully. We need to remove existing barriers to job creation, so regulatory reform is very important. We also need to make sure there are sufficient market incentives for people to start businesses and grow those businesses, so that gets down to tax reform. This is particularly important, both regulatory and tax reform, to our young, smaller firms.

Studies show that most of our job creation is occurring at larger incumbent firms as opposed to younger firms and small businesses. But, that hasn’t been the case through most of American history. If we can simplify our tax code, reduce compliance costs, and lower the rates, that's going to go a long way toward insuring that more businesses are created with better pay. If we can reduce the regulatory burden that businesses are facing, that will particularly benefit smaller enterprises.

Many of our members have expressed frustration with the lack of skilled talent across the country. What do you think needs to be done to address the skills gap many companies are facing?

Well I'm really glad you asked that, because you notice from the outset I mentioned that we need to grow our economy so every Hoosier can meaningfully participate in it. If you're lacking the skills required to work at a local business, it makes it difficult for you to provide for your family and meaningfully participate in the economy.

Through our community college systems, universities, and K-through-12 system, Indiana is already trying to adjust to an increasingly dynamic economy. Our businesses have also been adjusting. I've seen apprenticeship programs throughout the state of Indiana where community college students are splitting their time between gaining new skills in a classroom setting and getting on-the-job training in some of our local businesses.

Other businesses are collaborating, actually working together, as opposed to competing to train people for the sorts of unique skills that your member companies require of their employees. We’re going to continue to see creative collaborations and relationship approaches taken by our private businesses working together with other stakeholders, whether they're governmental or nongovernmental, to come up with ways to close the skills gap.

The federal government can be helpful here by serving as a clearing house of sorts, studying what works throughout the country, making that known to private businesses and various levels of government, and then we need to scale up and replicate with fidelity what is really working

What motivated you to become a public servant?

I have a heart for service, and I have been blessed to have many unique life experiences --  from serving in the military to working in the private economy as a management consultant, and an attorney. I don't have a large ego, but I have enough of an ego to think I can make a difference. So, I decided to run for office back in 2010, without ever having run for an elected office. I was fortunate to have several people who along the way helped me get elected and believed in me.

This has been the most fulfilling responsibility I've ever had, to represent the people of Indiana.

Outside of politics, what do you enjoy doing in your downtime for fun?

I love to play sports. That use to involve competitive team-based sports but now as I've gotten older and become less coordinated, it means running or biking or going to the gym in the morning.  I also like to play with my kids, and usually that means playing sports.

I have four children, an 11-year-old, 9-year-old, and twins who are seven. We play basketball on our little basketball hoop at home; we play soccer out in the yard; I pitch the baseball back and forth with my son -- I like to do that.

I also like to read. Currently, I'm reading a few different books, and that keeps my mind for my job, but it's also a nice reprieve from some of the normal day-to-day business of Washington, D.C.

At a Glance: Sen. Todd Young (R-IN)

  • Age: 44
  • Home: Carmel, IN
  • BA: United States Naval Academy
  • MA: School of Advanced Study in London
  • Member of the Committees on Foreign Relations; Health, Education, Labor & Pensions; Commerce, Science & Transportation; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship