|Indiana: A State That Sort Of Works|
Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson)
In the summer of 2013, the Indiana Economic Development Commission (IEDC) coined the phrase “A State That Works” as Indiana’s latest marketing campaign. With all due respect to IEDC, it seems as though “A State That Sort of Works” would be a more appropriate slogan. Let me explain.
Last session, the legislature passed a law that sort of gives protections for hate crimes, however gender was intentionally left out of the bill so if you’re attacked for being a woman or transgender, then Indiana is not a state that works for you.
Our elections are sort of secure. The legislature only allocated 10 percent of the dollars necessary to provide a paper ballot trail for electronic voters across the state, even with over $2 billion in our state surplus. So for 90 percent of voters, Indiana is not a state that works for you.
Indiana sort of has an early childhood education program but we only provide enough funding for a small fraction of the kids who need it. In fact, Indiana has the 4th lowest enrollment of four year olds in the U.S. So for all you parents and guardians who want to enroll your child in Pre-K, but don’t have affordable options in your community, Indiana is not a state that works for you.
We sort of have free public education from K-12, but still require families to pay hefty textbook rental fees, something unheard of in 42 other states. So if your family can’t afford to pay these textbook fees, Indiana is not a state that works for you.
In the 2019 session, Senate Democrats fought to give teachers an immediate pay raise because our teachers have seen the slowest pay growth in the nation. Meanwhile, the Republican supermajority took the route of sort of caring by increasing public school funding by two percent, barely enough to meet inflation. Yet, charter schools got a 10.4 percent increase and vouchers a 7.4 percent increase. So if you’re a public school teacher, Indiana is not a state that works for you.
Finally, with 73 percent of Hoosiers supporting the legalization of medical marijuana and 33 other states having provided this alternative treatment option to patients, Indiana still refuses to move the needle on this issue. So if you’re a veteran suffering from PTSD, a patient with epilepsy or another individual whose quality of life could be improved with a medical marijuana prescription, then Indiana is not even a state that works for you but rather a state that criminalizes you.
I am critical of our state and its legislature because I know we can do better by the people who elected us here. If Hoosiers overwhelmingly support an idea, then it is the General Assembly’s responsibility to fully and unequivocally fulfill the promises we made to our constituents – not just sort of.