Pryor: House GOP rejects plan to study Hoosier worker wages

April 3, 2017 Cherrish Pryor

For immediate release:
April 3, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – At a time when the average Hoosier worker’s wages fall well below the national norm, Indiana House Republicans showed no interest today in studying how to improve the pay of working men and women across this state.

House Republicans rejected an amendment from State Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) that would have asked a proposed state commission to take an in-depth look at the salaries paid to Hoosiers in the private and public sector and recommend suitable pay for them.

The amendment was offered to Senate Bill 60, which creates the Executive Officers’ Compensation Advisory Commission, a group charged with suggesting possible changes to the salaries for seven statewide elected officials: the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, superintendent of public instruction, and attorney general.

“This bill asks us to consider the potential of raising salaries for a series of public officials who all make more than $75,000 a year,” Pryor said. “In an earlier form, this legislation would have given all seven of these officeholders substantial pay raises. However, it was decided that it might be better to study the idea.

“Yet the fact is that we are being asked to look at the plight of a select few, while continually ignoring the growing income gaps that face millions of workers across this state,” she continued. “While those who control our state government continue to crow about the numbers of jobs that are being created in Indiana, they remain disappointingly silent on the fact that those jobs are paying less and less.”

According to the latest figures provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income for Indiana was $50,532 in 2015, compared to the median U.S. household income of $55,775. Indiana women on average earn 24 cents less per dollar than their male counterparts, a gap among the 10 worst in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean hourly wage in Indiana is $20.64 compared to $23.86 at the national level. The annual mean wage in Indiana is $42,940, while the annual mean wage in the U.S. is $49,630. Bureau statistics also show that the average weekly wage for an Indiana worker was $891 in 2015, 40th in the nation.

“My proposal would have required this advisory commission to look at the salaries for all private sector workers, as well as state employees, state law enforcement officers, public school teachers, and local elected officials and their employees,” Pryor said. “If we are being asked to consider the potential of increasing the pay of our governor and the other elected officials at the top of the state food chain, my thought was that we should also see what can be done for those who do not have the powerful stumping for them.”

In recent years, House Republicans have done little to benefit Hoosier workers, continually rejecting proposed increases in the state’s minimum wage, while eliminating the common construction wage.

“We need to stop for a moment and understand that far too many Hoosiers are not getting ahead these days. They are struggling to keep their heads above water. We need to find out why, and we need to do something to help,” Pryor said. “Today, we saw that the House Republicans were not interested in helping.”