First, I want to thank House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indinapolis, for his
willingness to work with House Democrats and his efforts to find a civil
tone after the rough sessions weíve had the past couple of years.
It is in that spirit of cooperation that we would like to offer a few grades
on how we proceeded on what House Democrats feel are the three major issues
we needed to address this session.
When it comes to taking care of the middle class first, I feel that we must
give out an incomplete.
The Republican majority denied the House a chanc to vote on the income tax
cut offered by the Governor, who is a member of their own party. The
Republcians voted down a House Democratic middle class tax cut that would
have provided more relief to the people who need it most.
Worst of all, we were denied a chance to vote on what I believe is the
biggest jobs of a generation. By expanding affordable health care, we would
have a chance to create as many as 30,000 good-paying jobs, according to the
Indiana Hospital Association. It would keep more that 400,000 Hoosiers from
having to use the emergency room as their primary health care option.
I believe we would have passed the affordable health care expansion if we
had been given the chance to vote on it in the House during the first half
of this session. It is disappointing we didnít get that chance, but I
believe that we will have more chances to embrace this opportunity because
it will pay huge dividends for years to come.
Our efforts to reinforce traditional public schools only get a D-minus.
We have not gone far enough to make up the promised investments taken away
in past years.
One problem is that we are now funding three school systems: our
tradidtional public schoos where most of our kids get their education, this
wild west of deregulation that is our charter school system, and the voucher
system for our private schools. We are trying to use one pool of money to
pay for all of these systems, and itís not working.
Finally, we believe our proposal that the Legislature takes a break from
social issues deserves a B-plus.
It is good we have decided to wait at least a year before deciding to amend
our constitution to include a ban on gay marriage. We have understood that
we need to give the people a break from discussing these highly emotional
issues, but we also understand that trouble looms if we begin to deal with
matters like trans-vaginal ultrasounds.
In the time we have left in this session, House Democrats feel we must begin
to embrace an alternative economic philosophy in this state.
Building this state cannot just be about putting money and power in the
hands of a few in the hope that they will do the right by the rest of us. It
has to be about empowering the middle class and people trying to get into
the middle class.
Letís focus on that ideal: helping the middle class. We may disagree and
debate on the means for achieving that goal, but if thatís what weíre
working toward, weíll have a better Indiana.