INDIANAPOLIS – State Senator Lonnie M. Randolph (D-East Chicago) is introducing multiple bills in the 2018 legislative session, two of which include funding for the School City of East Chicago (SCEC) and tax credits for small businesses who hire unemployed veterans.

East Chicago school loan

Less than three days prior to the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, Carrie Gosch Elementary School in East Chicago was forced to relocate to the nearby former West Side Junior High School building due to the discovery of lead and arsenic poisoning in the soil surrounding school grounds. Following the move, the SCEC was granted a loan amount of $3 million in order to cover the costs of outfitting the new building for use, a loan amount that the SCEC will be unable to repay. Sen. Randolph has proposed Senate Bill (SB) 118 to provide the SCEC funding of an adequate amount to cover the balance of the loan.

“This loan was simply a bandage for the School City of East Chicago. When the time comes, the money will be due, and they will not be able to pay for this problem that they did not create,” Sen. Randolph said. “If the school corporation has to pay back this loan, that will take funding away from key operations and resources that in the end will hurt our students’ overall education.”

Since the discovery of lead and arsenic poisoning in the soil, which measures upwards of 200 times the amount determined to be harmful to children by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Carrie Gosch Elementary School’s enrollment has dropped by nearly 30 percent, leading to the loss of additional per pupil state funding, furthering their inability to repay the loan debt.

Tax credit for hiring unemployed veterans

Indiana has a history of taking care of its veterans. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Indiana had the lowest veteran unemployment rate in the entire nation in 2016 at 1.8 percent. Sen. Randolph believes it’s time we reward our businesses for their commitment to the fair treatment of our veterans. This proposal would offer tax credits for small businesses in Indiana that hire unemployed veterans, in the amount of $3,000 per employee. This would not only reward our businesses for their dedication to employing our veterans, but it would ensure that Indiana continues to set an example for the rest of the nation on how to properly protect those who have served in the military.

Committee assignments

Sen. Randolph will be representing constituents from his district as the Ranking Minority Member of the Commerce and Technology Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Randolph will also serve on the following Senate committees during the 2018 session: Civil Law, Ethics, Public Policy, Rules and Legislative Procedure, Tax and Fiscal Policy, and Utilities.