GiaQuinta: This Session was a missed opportunity to put Hoosiers first
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta from Fort Wayne today issued the following statement about the 2019 session of the Indiana General Assembly:
“There were a lot of missed opportunities this session to put Hoosiers first, especially when it comes to teachers, traditional public schools, the Department of Child Services (DCS) and making sure all Hoosiers are equally protected under the law from bias crimes. However, Republicans accomplished their major goal of this session: protecting the state’s surplus.
“While the supermajority brags about having over $2.2 billion in the bank, Hoosier teachers will not get the pay raise they deserve and traditional public schools will continue to receive funding increases that barely keep up with the rate of inflation, which leaves school corporations across the state scrambling to find ways to keep their schools running.
“All signs point to a growing teacher shortage and a number of school corporations in rural and urban areas that will be negatively impacted by this two-year budget.
“If we aren’t investing tax payer dollars in talented teachers in the classroom and our traditional public schools where 94% of Hoosier students are learning and growing, we are doing a disservice to the children of our state.
“Republicans are also choosing not to fully fund DCS in their budget. The child abuse rate in our state more than doubles the national average. DCS has demonstrated that the agency is overloaded and underfunded, due in major part to the opioid epidemic in Indiana. Some of the most vulnerable children in our state are being systematically placed at risk and DCS doesn’t have the bandwidth to help them. Yet again, a disservice to the children of our state.
“Republicans also turned down an opportunity to come together in the General Assembly to pass a comprehensive hate crimes law that protects all Hoosiers, including women and the transgender community. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and ACLU Indiana, the hate crimes bill that was signed into law by Governor Holcomb this session does not get Indiana off the list of states without a comprehensive hate crimes law. Indiana deserves better, and I believe this watered down hate crimes law will dissuade companies from planting roots and choosing to grow in our state.
“Despite these missed opportunities, House Democrats were able to advance legislation this session that puts Hoosiers first. We were successful in our fight to ensure that Hoosiers with pre-existing medical conditions are covered under all insurance plans issued in Indiana. We also did our part to kill bills that would have made it legal for payday lenders to issues short-term loans that charge interest rates up to 167% and stopped the majority from preventing the expansion of clean energy and cost-saving electric generating plants in Indiana.
“But we could have done more. The majority failed the people of Indiana this legislative session. Fat surpluses and bond ratings aren’t improving the quality of life for many people in our state.”