By Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson)
Word count: 496
Time and tides stand still for no one. But progress seems to be of little concern to Governor Pence and Republican Statehouse leaders, who skillfully dodged and delayed action on just about every big ticket item this session. Make no mistake, from some of the lowest wage growth in the country, to the highest levels of drug abuse, basement level health rankings and infrastructure going unfortified, our state faces critical problems that demand leadership. Yet, Governor Pence decided it was better to coast, leaving the difficult decisions for another day and keeping a low profile heading into this election year.
Where does that leave Hoosiers? Left behind.
The state of Indiana’s roads and bridges demands a sustainable, long-term funding solution. Hoosier motorists are paying $391 annually in the form of blown tires or bent wheels. We live with the reality of dodging potholes and detouring around closed bridges. All four legislative caucuses brought infrastructure proposals but Governor Pence buried any long-term solution, opting for another study and another stopgap. Consider, also the cost to Indiana’s businesses in lost time spent sitting in traffic. Every year we fail to find a sustainable, long-term solution, our roads and bridges are a year more outdated and the price tag to fix them just keeps climbing.
It’s not just Indiana’s roads and bridges; the Hoosier workforce is at a critical precipice. Between 2013 and 2014, Indiana’s median household income grew slower than 45 other states. While other economies are picking up speed after the Great Recession, Hoosier wage growth is nearly flat. Coupled with the recent announced departure of 2,100 manufacturing jobs – some with a salary of $55,000 plus overtime – to Mexico, it’s clear that action is needed. The Legislature’s move? They expressed their “profound disappointment” while quietly removing a Democrat-backed proposal demanding a refund of taxpayer-funded incentives provided to companies that then move jobs out of Indiana.
And then there’s the utter lack of progress to provide Civil Rights protections for LGBT Hoosiers. After last year’s fight over RFRA uncovered just how deficient Indiana’s Civil Rights statutes are – it’s legal to fire someone for being gay in some areas of the state – business leaders and Hoosiers lined up in support of decisive action. At a time that demanded leadership, the governor stepped back and the civil rights expansion legislation faltered. Governor Pence may think the storm passed, but until we affirm our commitment to equality and tolerance through legislative action, this blemish on Hoosier hospitality remains distinctly unresolved. Last year, RFRA cost Indianapolis alone $60 million in lost economic activity. How much more is the governor willing to lose before he acts?
Hoosier households don’t wait to remedy problems at home. If a pipe freezes, you call a plumber, if the roof is old, you get a contractor, when Indiana faces challenges Hoosiers should be able to look to their leader. Ducking the hard decisions might pay off politically, but Governor Pence’s tactics are leaving Hoosier families behind.
Sen. Lanane represents Indiana Senate District 25 which includes portions of Madison and Delaware counties, including the City of Muncie and the southeastern portion of the City of Anderson. For more information on Sen. Lanane, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.indianasenatedemocrats.org/S25 .
NOTE: A photo of Sen. Tim Lanane can be downloaded at: https://www.indianasenatedemocrats.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Lanane.jpg