Gregory W. Porter
Recently, we found out that the Indiana state government is expected to receive $ 3.3 billion more in revenue than expected. Over the next two fiscal years, we plan to come out with an additional $ 5.1 billion and an additional $ 4.1 billion in reserve, respectively.
State Republicans would have you believe that this windfall, along with the READI Regional Community Development Grants and the upcoming $ 125 refund to taxpayers, is the result of their strong fiscal management. House Speaker Todd Huston said, “This taxpayer refund is further proof that the strong Conservative tax leadership in Indiana, which is paying its bills and plans for the future, is rewarding Hoosiers.”
The reality is that Republicans are hardly responsible for all that money in our state reserves. Indiana Congressional Republicans did not vote for the US bailout, which provided funding for the READI grants and the taxpayer rebate that Republicans are now touting as a victory for them. Our Federal Democrats – including U.S. Representatives from Indiana Andre Carson and Frank Mrvan – are to be thanked for these critical and important investments in our communities and our quality of life.
No one should be laughing at the $ 125 in the Hoosiers’ pockets. But by dispersing the money into small individual chunks rather than making large-scale investments in the communities and the many problems we’ve already identified in Indiana, we’re applying a band-aid where we could facilitate huge, transformational change.
For example, the maternal mortality rate in our state is high – especially for mothers of color and rural mothers – as is the infant mortality rate. Indiana should be a place where families thrive, and we know there are investments we can make to make it better. Right now, even with a statewide increase in teacher compensation made possible in part by the US bailout, there are huge teacher shortages, which have only brought teachers already overworked to work even more. We must attract and retain educators in our state to secure the future of our children. And, as that same legislative body pointed out, our statewide water infrastructure needs upgrades – things like replacing lead pipes and other upgrades – which will cost around $ 15. billions of dollars.
Following:6 things you need to know about maternal mortality in Indiana
None of these expenses are frivolous. These are just the fundamental investments we need to make to make sure the families and workers at Hoosier are healthy and have a good chance of having a good life for themselves. But the current GOP leadership prefers to turn a blind eye to these issues at the expense of their constituents and Hoosiers statewide.
This call for bolder leadership even comes from within their own ranks. Aaron Renn, a self-proclaimed conservative, wrote a few weeks ago in American Affairs that under GOP governance, âIndiana has built its [business-friendly] sandbox, but few people or businesses want to play it, and those who don’t have a lot of money. The state attracts few new residents to the net, and the businesses that settle there are mostly low-wage employers who take advantage of the state’s low-skilled and poorly paid workforce.
Governing means exactly that: doing the hard work of governance and policy making and targeting investments where Hoosiers suffer most. Do not block all the surpluses for a hypothetical future rainy day. Democrats in the House and Senate are ready to rule – it’s time for Republicans to be too.
State Representative Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis) is the leading Democrat on the Indiana Ways and Means Committee.