For immediate release:
Feb. 4, 2016
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City today issued the following statement as the 2016 session of the Indiana General Assembly reached its halfway point:
“So, what have lawmakers done for the people of Indiana in 2016?
“Well, House Republicans voted to raise taxes, while sitting on a pile of money they already collected from the people.
“Let that one sink in for a moment.
“People were expecting us to take care of two major issues coming into this session: finding a long-term solution to Indiana’s unsightly infrastructure, and stating loudly and clearly that intolerance will not be tolerated in this state.
“The creation of a viable, sustainable plan to improve our deteriorating roads and bridges remains possible. Options remain alive, but the Republican supermajority’s grand plan raises taxes on workers right after they cut taxes for favored interests.
“House Democrats offered a plan that did not raise taxes and used the money Hoosiers already pay at the pump for better roads and bridges. With a bank of dollars at their disposal, the House Republicans instead went for consumers’ wallets after lavishing cuts on those at the top.
“Our message is simple. First, use the money you already raised for roads. Once that is done, we can talk about who bears burdens in the future.
“I say this, though. At least they came up with a plan—one over which we currently disagree—and exposed it to scrutiny. They will have another few weeks to sell it to the people of Indiana.
“When it comes to civil rights, however, the only thing that can be said is that our leaders in the governor’s office and the Legislature ducked the issue. Nothing has been settled. We will continue to battle the impression that we are intolerant, old-fashioned, and out of touch with the modern world.
“Those leaders can protest that Indiana is a state for everyone, but their words mean little against their actions…or should I say, their inaction. For another year, we will listen to paranoid musings about potty police, when the real desire is for an excuse to do nothing.
“Once we get past those two issues, though, we have to dig through a stack of papers.
“I suppose that the Republicans finally are sensing that continually tinkering with public schools was bound to backfire. Now we see them trying to recover in the eyes of the unsung heroes of our educational system: Indiana’s teachers.
“We passed legislation to eliminate an ISTEP program that’s been a disaster since it came into existence, and we’ve already had a grand ceremony to shield schools for a year from oppressively bureaucratic testing.
“Can the Republicans keep their hands to themselves from here on out? I am skeptical. There still are plenty of bills in the hopper that will wreak havoc on the classroom.
“I will note that we passed a good bill to combat methamphetamine. For now, the effort deserves a quiet moment of rejoicing.
“Apart from that, what have we got? Protections for Indiana’s endangered gold bullion dealers? Mandatory cursive writing? New regulations for small-flock chicken butchers? Those issues are all important to someone, but they do not change a state.
“Others may be pleased with what has been accomplished to date, but I seriously doubt those sentiments are shared by the majority of Hoosiers who shaking their heads in unison.”