For immediate release:
March 15, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS - It has been a very slow week at the Indiana General Assembly.
It has been one of those weeks when it is hard to convince people that we are doing anything productive.
It has been the kind of week where the major accomplishment in the House has been agreeing to expand educational opportunities for veterans and their children—the kind of thing that already should be law.
It was the kind of week where we found out that the administration is continuing to have trouble getting its act together to convince the federal government that it has a viable plan to provide affordable health care services in our state.
You may wonder why we fiddle around with a proposal that does not work instead of doing the right thing and getting behind the Affordable Care Act, which experts say can put as many as 30,000 Hoosiers to work and give as many as 400,000 Hoosiers affordable health care.
But a bigger question might be to ask whether we have accomplished anything in the Legislature this year.
The leaders in the House and the Senate tell us that many things already have been done: the Speaker of the House said everything has been "positive" and "productive" so far.
What have we done to put Hoosiers back to work now? Nothing.
What have we done to provide a chance for 30,000 Hoosiers to have jobs? Nothing.
What have we done to cut the textbook tax for Hoosier families with children? Nothing.
What have we done to restore and protect our traditional public schools? Nothing.
What have we done to ensure affordable health care for Hoosiers? Nothing.
What have we done to keep Hoosiers from using the emergency room as their primary health care option? Nothing.
What have we done to confirm our commitment to protect abused and neglected children? Nothing.
Based on the evidence, it is difficult for me to say we have done anything for Hoosiers.
We still have more than a month before our April 29 deadline, but it will take a lot more than what we have seen so far to make anyone believe we are trying to take care of the middle class first or create jobs or reinforce traditional public schools.
What is missing is a sense of urgency: there are people in this state who need help now, and we are not giving them any reason to think that we care about them.
We run the very real risk that when we reach the end of April, Indiana will have no plan to provide affordable health care, that we will offer no help to our middle class, and that we will continue to try to use one pool of money to fund three school systems: the traditional public schools where most of our kids get their education, the wild west of deregulation that is our charter school system, and the voucher system for our private schools.
You should expect more from your Legislature.
State Representative Shelli VanDenburgh
Indiana House District 19