Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Indiana House Democrats Offer Plans ; COMMUNITY COMMENT

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Indiana House Democrats Offer Plans ; COMMUNITY COMMENT

Article excerpt

For many Indiana House Democrats, we have entered into a brave new world in the political arena. The past two elections have seen the House turn from an evenly divided chamber into one controlled by one party by a substantial margin. As House Democrats, these circumstances require us to look ahead and recognize our obligations to the people of Indiana.

As I said on the House floor, we must make sure the power of government does not shift far from the center. The House majority has the duty not to misinterpret the reasons they were elected, and I would hope they would show enlightened restraint in their goals.

As for House Democrats? We offer three proposals for consideration.

Help the middle class first.

The economic engine of this state is our working men and women - the ones who plow our streets, protect our homes, and work in our factories and small shops. They are the reason the lights remain on at local businesses. They also haven't done as well as others.

According to the most recent Census Bureau figures, Indiana's median household income lags behind the rest of the nation by more than $4,000. The median value of our owner-occupied housing units is more than $60,000 lower than the country as a whole. We have been lagging behind the nation for years in these areas without making progress.

Even if you believe there is no government solution to this problem, we still can take pressure off the middle class and folks working to get into the middle class.

There will be discussions this session about revenue. We should keep it simple: No tax giveaways for people who don't need them.

Our new governor campaigned on an individual income tax cut, and I trust his proposal will be given respectful consideration by his colleagues in the General Assembly. But I also offer some advice.

If tax cuts are in order, focus them on the workers who create the profits in our state. Otherwise, remember our middle class is being squeezed everywhere, and the costs of health care, education and meeting our everyday obligations cause stress for all families.

Next, we know many people don't like the Affordable Care Act, but the law is reality and we want to make it work. Hundreds of thousands of middle class workers should not be forced to use the emergency room as their only health care option. The rest of the middle class cannot afford to keep sending them there.

Finally, we need to stop putting downward pressure on wages. The answer to every economic problem cannot be passing laws such as "right to work" that hold down wages on the middle class. That's a clear path to having no one left to spend money at the very businesses we try to support.

We live in a dynamic world economy that means middle class workers must adapt to new jobs quickly and garner the skills needed to fill the jobs we expect to be open soon. …

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