Environment House Democrats release statement on Tuesday's events

House Democrats release statement on Tuesday's events

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

February 22, 2011

INDIANA HOUSE DEMOCRATS: HOOSIERS NEED TIME TO EXAMINE HOUSE GOP ATTACKS ON FAMILIES

INDIANAPOLIS – The members of the Indiana House Democratic Caucus have issued the following statement on today’s events at the Indiana House of Representatives:

“The past few days have seen an unprecedented attack on Hoosier families by a radical House Republican agenda that will hurt millions in both the classroom and the pocketbook.

“House Democrats find it hard to believe that these proposals affecting so many are being advanced in the name of ‘reform.’ In point of fact, they are anti-child and anti-worker, and there needs to be sufficient time for the people of this state to examine the length and depth of what is being attempted here.

“The House Republicans are pursuing legislation that is diverting state tax dollars toward for-profit private schools through programs like charters and vouchers. This comes at a time when public schools already have been reeling from $600 million in spending cuts ordered by Gov. Mitch Daniels over the past two years.

“As more public money goes toward for-profit private schools, the funding available for public schools grows smaller and smaller. That means larger classes, as well as cuts in programs, instruction and materials that will adversely affect children who will never have a chance to attend a private school. In addition, House Republicans are seeking legislation that enables private schools to avoid many of the rules and regulations imposed on public schools.

“But the attacks do not stop there. House Republicans have advanced a second set of proposals that declare war on working families across this state. They attempt to portray these attacks as efforts to create jobs, but proposals like right to work have a documented history of driving down incomes for working men and women.

“We are pleased Gov. Daniels agrees with us that right to work does not need to be heard now, although it must be pointed out that he doesn’t rule out future consideration of this issue.

“Right now there are close to 300,000 Hoosiers who find themselves without jobs, and are desperately looking for ways to support their families. To date this session, the only thing the House Republicans have told these people is that if they lose their jobs, their unemployment benefits are going to be cut 25 percent.

“Hoosiers already make only 85 cents for every $1 earned by the average American, and these anti-worker proposals have been proven to slash wages by an average of $5,500 each year. They have had enough, which is why thousands of working men and women have appeared at the Indiana Statehouse these past few days. Their voices need to be heard.

“Indiana House Democrats will continue to deliberate on these issues until their full implications are grasped and debated.

“Despite his recent statements, the governor still has the ability to compel our attendance, which is why we have relocated to Urbana, Illinois, for the immediate future. By staying here, we will be giving the people of Indiana a chance to find out more about this radical agenda and speak out against it.

“We will remain here until we get assurances from the governor and House Speaker Brian Bosma that these bills will not be called down in the House at any time this session. Our leader, State Rep. B. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend), is ready to talk to the Speaker any time. All the Speaker has to do is call.”

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Attached are the bills of concern to House Democrats:

Education

HB 1002 Charter School Expansion. Diverts state funding to experimental schools at a time when the state has cut funding to local schools by $600 million over the past two years.

HB 1003 School Vouchers. Allows a family of four making over $80,000 a year to receive taxpayer dollars to send their children to a private school.

HB 1479 Private Takeover of Public Schools. Allows the state of Indiana to take over poorly performing schools and for these schools to be managed by for-profit companies.  It removes local decision making in schools.

HB 1584 Public School Waiver of state laws. Allows school boards to seek waivers of almost any school law or regulation.

Labor

HB 1468 Right to work. Places the government between employers and their workers. It weakens the ability of working people to bargain for fair wages and safe work environments.

HB 1216 Public Works Projects and Common Construction Wage. Weakens the ability of government to ensure that tax dollars are paid to the best and most qualified workers on public works projects, and that these tax dollars are spent at home.

HB 1203 Employee representations. Ends employee rights to join a union by secret ballot and opens employees up to retaliation and firing by an employer who finds out they are trying to use their right to bargain.  This is preempted by federal law.  Will require the state to use taxpayer dollars to defend this legislation.

HB 1450 Unemployment Insurance. Shifts hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes from big businesses to small business and will cut benefits for unemployed workers by 25%.

HB 1585 Right to work for Public Employees. Removes collective bargaining rights at the local level.

HB 1538 Minimum wages. Precludes a community from determining what wages are appropriate for its area.

HB 1001 Budget Bill. Allowed no public testimony on a school funding formula that cuts state support for K-12 across Indiana.