Pelath: First half of 2014 session offers a textbook case of missed opportunities

February 4, 2014 Scott Pelath

For immediate release:
Feb. 4, 2014


INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City today issued the following statement as the 2014 session of the Indiana General Assembly reached its halfway point:

“The challenges we faced coming into this session were immense:

  • How to help Hoosier families who have seen their incomes decline over the past decade.
  • How to keep our best and brightest from leaving Indiana.
  • How to address the crisis facing Hoosier girls, one of six of whom gets raped or sexually assaulted.
  • How to not only put Hoosiers back to work, but make sure they are paid decent wages.

“We have had numerous chances to fully address these problems, but we have avoided looking for answers. If there is such a thing as a textbook case of missed opportunities, the first half of this session is it.

“Consider what our priorities have been so far. It doesn’t take too long.

“Our biggest priority has been deciding whether to open up our state’s most cherished document to tell the world who can marry whom in Indiana.

“Our second biggest priority has been a step toward elimination of the business personal property tax, something that will not create jobs, but will add to the burdens faced by families, homeowners, local units of government, and schools.

“And it’s not like we haven’t had the chance to consider some things that will help our middle class. Here are just a few things that House Democrats have advocated this session:

  • Increasing the state’s minimum wage.
  • Asking the people of Indiana if they support an increase in the minimum wage.
  • Asking for a study of the wage equity gap in Indiana.
  • Restoring a Small Business Innovation Program to assist technological start-up companies.
  • Establishing Manufacturing Reinvestment Accounts to help small businesses purchase equipment and hire new workers.
  • Creating an Indiana Goes Back to Work Tax Credit to encourage employers to hire unemployed Hoosiers.

“We tried to get rid of Indiana’s faulty wage suppression law. We asked Congress to do something to help 70,000 Hoosiers who lost their unemployment benefits. We tried to increase Indiana’s earned income tax credit. We tried to provide more than $500 million for state and local infrastructure.

“We asked for a plan to encourage our top college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to stay in Indiana. We asked that our state finally study why so many Hoosier girls have been raped or sexually assaulted. We tried to end ‘pay-to-play’ in Indiana for people who want taxpayer-funded assistance. We asked that the Indiana Inspector General keep the people of our state better-informed.

“Indiana House Democrats believe all of these ideas offer chances to help millions of Hoosiers. House Republicans did not agree. They stopped all of the things I just mentioned.

“There were some successes. We did get the majority to support our proposal to increase the exemption our state provides for families with children. They supported our plan to provide the funding to help local firefighters, police and EMTs purchase the equipment they need to keep their communities safe. They even agreed with us that the Indiana Attorney General needs to keep the public better-informed.

“But when you consider what we did, and what we could have done, you cannot say this session has been a success or even done anything except help our haves and lay the groundwork for ugly, divisive debates on the most personal issues.

“And that means this session has been a failure…so far. We have time to do better. Indiana House Democrats will do our part. I just hope the majorities feel the same way.”