House Democrats, Republicans Outlining GoalsPosted: Updated:
House Republicans will unveil their legislative agenda Wednesday for this year's session of the General Assembly. House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath (D-9) outlined some of his party's goals Tuesday including a focus on keeping recent college graduates in the state. He is challenging lawmakers to come up with a way to identify the top science, technology, engineering and math graduates each year and keep one-thousand of them in Indiana. January 8, 2014
Text of State Representative's Scott Pelath's Remarks to the Indiana House of Representatives
Happy New Year, everyone!
I know many of you enjoyed a productive 2013 on behalf of your constituents. And while we often tease one another about valuing our time apart more than we appreciate our time together, please know that I am genuinely happy to see every one of you again. In your faces, I see many of the things we like about Indiana.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for granting me the chance to discuss the work ahead of our great state in 2014. It is a courtesy for which I am grateful. I embrace the House tradition that on Organization Day, there is only one microphone inside this chamber, and it belongs to the Speaker. The occasion of the minority leader’s remarks on the first regular session day is but an extension of this worthwhile custom.
This year, I am not going to offer any letter grades or engage in another scholastic exercise. Given some widely publicized events in recent months, I hope you will accept this decision in the spirit of mercy with which it is intended. This year, you are going to get a good old-fashioned speech.
And with that, I want to make a declaration that I believe many Hoosiers are yearning to hear: Let's set ideology aside, and work together to solve some real problems.
I know in our world it is sometimes easy to forget, but most of our citizens are not ideologues. Most are not sipping lattes in front of an MSNBC marathon. Most are not kicking the dog out of the leather chair for a best-of-Sean-Hannity special.
In fact, the vast majority of voters somewhere between the Far Right and the Far Left have caught on to the words and phrases that politicians use to cultivate support. Terms like "big government" and "small government" and "traditional values" and the other two and three-word bumper sticker slogans have lost meaning to our citizens.
What our constituents really demand is functionality. They insist on a frank and honest assessment of problems, some common-sense solutions, and a credible effort to make their lives a little better.
They do not insist on perfection or strict adherence to a boiler plate of litmus-test positions. They do, however, expect us to give everyone a fair shake, promote the general welfare, and make the difficult lives of our constituents a little less so. Whether that means that government should get more involved or simply get out of the way, most citizens assess the desired scope of government involvement on a case-by-case basis.
I say these things not because I have any special insight. I say them because like all of us, I have made mistakes, suffered some regrets, and thought about how we might do things better the next time.
Today, we must face Indiana’s real problems. We love our state. But we can do much, much better. What matters is not the quality of our press releases. What matters is the prosperity of our citizens. The road to prosperity starts with realizing our unmet potential.
Over the past decade, Hoosiers' household incomes have declined by a greater percentage than forty-seven other states. The income of the average Hoosier is more than ten-percent lower than his or her fellow Americans.
More than twenty-eight-percent of Americans have at least a Bachelor's degree. Less than twenty-three percent of Hoosiers have one. Our best and brightest are leaving the state and not coming back.
One in six Hoosier girls has been raped or sexually assaulted. We have one of the nation's very highest infant mortality rates. More than one in five of our school-age girls are living below the poverty line.
Seven in ten jobs do not pay enough to allow one parent to stay at home with the kids. Women make seventy-three cents on the dollar for what the average man makes -- the sixth-worst wage gap in the country.
I plainly describe these troubles not to diminish our beloved state, but to begin a dialog that will lead to real solutions for real problems.
Too often, we believe our own rhetoric. We high-five our press statements on the budget surplus. Or we pat ourselves on the back as Indiana tags along behind a national economic recovery. Or we extend symbolic assistance to people while at the same time reducing their resources. Of these activities, we can all live with less.
Likewise, we must reject solutions in search of problems. The proposed amendment to our constitution achieves nothing other than dividing our people, diverting our energies, singling out a group of our friends and neighbors, and sending a message to America's best and brightest that Indiana is not the most forward-looking place to be. Rather than acquiescing to the fate of this national embarrassment, let’s boldly move on to the things that make a difference.
Another problem we do not have is our business tax climate. Both parties have made Indiana a good place to start a business and avoid the heavy tax bills. But we already have a top-ten business tax structure. Whatever ails us, business taxes are not the problem. What is a problem are local communities being able to help businesses by maintaining streets, keeping enough police on the beats, and paying enough firefighters to get to the blaze on time.
An ongoing quandary for Indiana businesses – particularly our small businesses -- is that there are too many struggling workers and consumers to buy enough of their stuff. Let us not shift more of the tax burden on to the people who actually create profits for business. Given current conditions, let's have them spend their checks at a local business instead of sending them to their local courthouses.
But as we move beyond knee-jerk ideology, I want to take a Republican idea and build on it. Republicans often assert that tax structure is a key to economic prosperity. So let us apply that principle to retaining one of our state's greatest resources and a powerful lure to employers in search of a skilled workforce: our recent college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Every year, let us identify our top college graduates in these fields and commit ourselves to keeping one-thousand of them in Indiana. If they remain Hoosiers, they will not pay one dime of state income tax for their first five years as Hoosier profit creators.
What I am proposing is to take your methods and try to solve a serious problem that both parties grasp. For Indiana to prosper, for our wages to rise, for our earnings to improve, our state must be a place where our best talent from all walks of life wants to remain.
After all, isn't that what all of us want? For our children to prosper here in Indiana.
It's not a perfect idea. But it's a start. And it sets the example of rethinking our philosophical differences in order to solve everyday problems.
Let's keep listening to each other as we tackle Indiana's real challenges with ingenuity and optimism. Welcome back, Mr. Speaker, and let's get started
Source: Indiana House Democrats
STATEHOUSE – House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) will announce the House Republican Legislative Agenda for the 2014 session tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan. 8).
WHO: Speaker Brian C. Bosma
WHAT: House Republican Legislative Agenda
WHEN: 10a.m., Wednesday, January 8, 2014
WHERE: Indiana House of Representatives Chamber
Source: House Republican Caucus