Pelath on 2017 session: any positives bookended by special interests and social issue division

April 22, 2017 Scott Pelath

For immediate release:
April 21, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City today issued the following statement upon completion of the 2017 session of the Indiana General Assembly:

“You could choose to get mad and stay that way about how this session deteriorated into a morass of social issues and drinking cold beer with a burrito, but that doesn’t wholly describe what many Hoosiers witnessed.

“At last, we have seen a commitment toward improving our crumbling infrastructure, at least for the next several years. It is good that there is a growing consensus of the need to put every penny you pay at the pump toward improving our roads. It would have been nice to see more shared sacrifice from all Hoosiers, but the powers that be felt corporate Indiana deserved to keep getting huge breaks, even as prices at the pump rise for the rest of us.

“After nearly two years of study, it was felt that we were moving closer to seeing some kind of bipartisan reforms to our election system to make Hoosiers feel that their votes do count. But the reforms we approved were small, and the biggest reform of all – independent redistricting – was hijacked by a sole committee chairman, with nary a peep of protest from his leaders.

“We did see more support for early education, but also there were continued efforts to divert more public dollars to the grand social experiment of vouchers and charters. Who suffers the most? Our public schools, again.

“We did see leaders take power out of the hands of the people by giving the governor the ability to choose the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“Most of all, we saw so many of these issues recede into the distance as the Legislature devoted more and more time to chipping away at a woman’s most personal decisions, debating the ins and outs of gun ownership, and refereeing as millionaires fight each other over sections of law that affect only the very rich.

“Could we have done more? Of course, but I cannot fault a session that acknowledges the need to improve our infrastructure, and endorses a South Shore improvement project that makes a substantial commitment toward the economic growth of a section of our state – Northwest Indiana – that has long been neglected in Indianapolis.

“But you always feel that you could have done more, when you consider what might have been. Any positives were bookended by special interests and social issue division.”