By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Gov. Holcomb sounds off!

Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: Gov. Eric Holcomb spent Thursday and Friday doing his annual year-end media interviews. What have we learned? On the political side of things, he, First Lady Janet and First Dog Henry will make the reelection decision next May  after the General Assembly session. "I pride myself on staying focused and I not distracting and I can chew gum and walk at the same time and prepare for a decision," Holcomb explained. Last week HPI exclusively reported that Eric Holcomb for Indiana will posted $3.6 million while Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch will post $750,000. Asked by HPI if he would run with Crouch, Holcomb said, "If I run, I hope she's my partner."

The governor vows to be "an active voice" on passage of hate crime legislation. He will implement the 18 school safety recommendations and pump almost $300 million into the Department of Child Services. "This requires us to look at this holistically, even doing a better job of recognizing and acting on all the early warning signs," Holcomb said of the two school shootings in Indiana this year. He told CNHI's  Scott Miley he wants more resources for mental health services in schools. "The next step in my mind is how do we bring to bear or put into the equation all the ways to recognize these early warning signals and act  on them before they get to the school front door or inside," Holcomb said a day after a school shooting in Richmond that left a student shooter dead. He wants to bring the infant mortality rate down. 

2. Governor on school superintendent & pay

Gov. Holcomb backs moving up the appointed school superintendent from 2025 to 2021 now that Supt. Jennifer McCormick won't run. On teacher pay increases, he was asked about membership pushback on ISTA's Theresa Meredith after the two spent part of the year negotiating. "I don't quite understand why she's getting pushback from her members," Holcomb said. "I thought I was very clear in articulating  we need to make progress in the short term with this budget and we have to have systemic and sustainable change in the future so we weren't every two years in terms of getting our teachers fairly compensated, but putting them in a leadership position in terms of neighboring states and our region." He wants any K-12 funding increases in the 2019 biennial budget to "get into the classroom, into the teacher paychecks." With the budget forecast coming today, Holcomb said, "That forecast will inform in January this budget cycle." 

3. Hoosiers, procreate! 

Last week Indiana Manufacturers Association President Brian Burton dropped an alarming statistic: 45% of the Hoosier workforce will be retiring in the next decade  as the Baby Boom generation heads into the sunset. Gov. Holcomb is calling it the "silver tsunami." Asked by HPI on Friday if the state should be promoting procreation day like a Russian Ulyanovsk olbast Gov. Sergei Morozov did in 2007, Holcomb said, "Certainly we have to encourage people to have more babies. That is, of course, part of the equation." Gov. Morozov proclaimed Sept. 12, 2007 as the "Day of Conception" and then rewarded couples who had babies on June 12 of the following year. The 2007 grand prize went to Irina and Andrei Kartuzov, who received a UAZ-Patriot, a sport utility vehicle made. "You need  to look at the birth rate and death rate of any county," Holcomb said. "Pick a county and look at birth rate and death rate. Howard County's birth rate/death rate is like plus 12. Or pick out Rush County and do the same or pick out the projections and people get giddy or happy when it's plus four. People! Not percent, people!  This is part of the challenge."

4. Trumpian poll numbers

NBC/Wall Street Journal Polling found 62% don't believe President Trump is telling the truth about Russian interference and his 2016 presidential campaign, while 38% do. His approval stood at 43%, but 85% with Republicans. Just 10% believe Trump got the message after a 40-seat loss in the U.S. House. His reelect number should be troubling: Just 38%.  NBC's Meet The Press Daily: Trump is playing to his base — and few outside of it.

5. Mick got what Nick wanted

Vice President Mike Pence's
chief of staff Nick Ayres spurned President Trump's offer to become chief of staff because he only wanted a short term gig. Over the weekend, Trump found someone who wanted to be his CoS, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. But essentially Mick got the deal Nick wanted. Or as NBC put it: It was Mulvaney who asked for an “acting” title, reflecting his desire to occupy the job for a limited period of time, according to two sources. Hmmmm. Weird. Oh, nevermind.

6. Shutdown looms

At a time when most lawmakers had hoped to be heading home for the holidays, Friday could become lump of coal day, as President Trump and Vice President Pence vow to shut down the government, and own it. Top aide Stephen Miller said in CBS Face The Nation, “We're going to do whatever is necessary  to build the border wall to stop this ongoing crisis of illegal immigration.” NYT: Republicans could have a problem mustering a bill to head off a shutdown. Many lame ducks are skipping votes  and are ready to bolt town.

Have a great week folks. It's The Atomic!