While the future of the Portage Adult Education Center remains in limbo,
District 4 State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, says she is currently
working on a bill that would grant funding to non-school entities providing
adult education services.
Tallian said that a federal law exists that allows non-school entities the
opportunity to offer adult education programs, but the current Indiana law
dictates the state can only allocate funds to schools.
“In order for the other entities to get state funds, you’d have to change
that legislation,” said Tallian who plans to introduce the bill during the
2011 Indiana General Assembly. “I want to make that change so that adult
education centers can open again.”
At the start of this year, a total of 19 satellite branches of the Portage
Adult Education program in six counties closed due to a lack of permanent
funding solutions, including the Chesterton Adult Learning Center. Since
then, adult education has continued at the Portage Adult High School for the
2010-11 school year, and with cuts projected in next year’s state budget,
Portage school officials said they may recommend shutting down the program
altogether next year.
Tallian in 2008 was a member of an interim study committee on adult
education that sought options for further funding. Although the committee
recommended increasing the amount by $4 million, the governor’s budget in
2009 slashed the item by $1 million instead. By the end of the session, the
funding for adult education statewide stayed at $14 million, the same amount
that had been approved by the state legislators for the past decade.
During a state budget committee meeting this month, Tallian said the figure
in a new proposal is projected to drop this year to about $10 million,
making the outlook bleak on adult education programs like Portage who are
struggling. Portage Adult Education saw yearly deficits of around $300,000
while this past year the state made significant cuts to school operating
The Portage Schools have been the program’s chief funding unit since its
establishment in 1960s.
Since May of this year, the Center of Workforce Innovations who oversees the
WorkOne centers throughout the region has stepped in to reopen ten centers
that had operated under the Portage program including Chesterton and
Executive Director for the Center of Workforce Innovations Linda Woloshansky
said her agency “stepped up to the need” when it saw that schools in the
region were not in the position to lend their resources to keep the adult
education program afloat.
Woloshansky said she will be meeting with Sen. Tallian later this week to
discuss the language of the bill.
“We want to know how we can help in the future and look at that because we
do want to maintain the centers that are currently in operation,” said
Woloshansky. She said the agency can still receive funding from the state
indirectly as long as the school agrees to transfer the money.
The Center of Workforce Innovations was not able to open back up all the
centers due to time and money, and looked for the ten that had the biggest
needs and community support. Woloshansky said they made sure that one center
was open in each of the six counties: Porter, Lake, LaPorte, Starke, Newton
While maintaining the same curriculum that was offered in the Portage
system, students can also participate with WorkOne in getting career
consultation, job placement, and referral to post-secondary education.
“We’re trying to bring all that kind of richness to the table for them,”
Woloshansky said the agency may be able to open up more of the centers if
the state does decide to set aside funds. “We would we appreciate that
During the 2011 Indiana General Assembly, Tallian said she will also offer a
bill that will set up a summer intern program called Hoosier Youth Corp for
high school students. The program will be similar to the federal program
AmeriCorps which gives participants the opportunity to provide services for
With job opportunities being extremely limited for youth, Tallian said the
program would allow students to pick up summer work.
Students would work for a number of weeks on a small weekly stipend and when
the program is completed, the participant will get an educational award to
help pay for the student’s college tution as long as the school is within
Tallian said the state began a program similar to this on a more limited
basis but now has the ability to expand with the state picking up additional
Talian said she also plans to recommend changes this year to two bills
already in place.
As Ranking Minority Member of the Pensions and Labor Committee, Tallian said
she wants to revise the Workman’s Compensation law to increase both
temporary and permanent injury payments now that the previous increases have
expired. Tallian said Indiana currently ranks 49 in 50 states for paying out
“We’re going to reauthorize the yearly increase and try to add a little bit
more,” she said.
Tallian is also looking to add more to the Mortgage Foreclosure Settlement
Conference bill she introduced a few years ago. The bill would now target
the ten or twelve counties in Indiana that account for 80 percent of the
mortgage foreclosures in the state.
A new program would allow the county courts to help residents pay off their
mortgages since banks will not take payments on foreclosed mortgages.
Tallian said there is also going to a large amount of federal money
available to help certain individuals who have lost their jobs and are
having trouble with their mortgages.
In another effort, Tallian said the Labor committee is working on solutions
to balance the deficit in the unemployment insurance trust fund. The deficit
as of now towers at approximately $2 billion from funds borrowed at the
federal level and is expected to reach $2.5 billion when payments are made
in the spring.
Politics in Redistricting Possible?
This year’s assembly will also tout with it the process of reshaping state
legislative and congressional districts. The new districts will be based on
population trends apparent in the certified data collected from this year’s
Having served on the Census Data Advisory Committee this summer, Tallian
told the Tribune early projections showed population shifts in Lake County
where more residents are choosing to live in the southern and eastern
portions, which is a strong indicator the districts will be realigned. She
did say however the projections do not strongly indicate that there will be
any move in the U.S. Congressional district.
Tallian said there have been recent efforts to implement an independent
legislative redistricting commission to advise General Assembly members.
Twenty-one states have independent redistricting committees and Tallian said
she favors the move to make redistricting as fair as possible but removing
politics is pretty close to impossible.
“Everybody is going to try and be fair, but it’s just a determination of
what is there. You just have to get as many sensible people together as you
can,” she said.
A change to implement an independent committee will mean a change to the
state constitution, Tallian said, which means the earliest one can appear on
the scene will be in the next round of redistricting in 2021.