Paid for by the Committee to Elect Lacy Hollings
Improve our Public Schools
We are over testing our children. Schools in our district spend seven weeks completing the ISTEP. The teachers hate it; the students hate it; and parents hate it. The only people who like this extended testing are the test makers who will lobby hard to get Indiana to adopt another long test to replace the ISTEP. In order to receive our Federal education funding, we only have to test reading, writing, and math. We can accomplish that in one week. Give the other six weeks back to the classrooms so our children are actually learning. We’d save millions of tax payer dollars on the cost of administering the test, which could be better used for staff and resources for our public schools.
We must authorize universal pre-K. Students attending quality early education programs are more likely to complete high school, earn a college degree and hold a skilled job. Those who attend preschool are also less likely to be incarcerated or participate in a government assistance program and earn $160,000 more in their lifetime than they would have otherwise. We should accept the $80 million in Federal grants that the Pence Administration turned down. Hoosiers pay Federal taxes; let’s get them back from the Federal government.
Fix Our Infrastructure
Indiana’s infrastructure is in desperate need of repairs and upgrades. Shoddy materials have caused asphalt on major sections of highway to fall apart after only 3 years, costing Hoosier taxpayers millions of dollars. Instead of addressing the problem head on, last year’s General Assembly created a “solution” that initially excluded 80% of Indiana’s roads and bridges by ignoring the needs of local governments. The General Assembly has tried to make control of the roads a state issue, when really the control of the many of the roads should be decided locally.
We can fix our roads without raising taxes. The funds from the sale of the Indiana toll road are currently going unused. We should put those funds to use on our roads. Additionally, we are only using a portion of the gas tax that you pay at the pump. All of the gas tax should be put towards our roads. Improvements on our infrastructure will also create good, high-paying construction jobs.
Care for Hoosier Veterans
There are 476,000 Hoosier veterans who are entitled to services such as home loans because of their service. As veterans, my husband and I receive mailings almost daily from predatory lenders who use convincing marketing to trick veterans into calling about refinancing their home mortgages. I would sponsor a bill that would require lenders identify clearly that they are not associated with the Veterans’ Administration or other government agencies. I intend to start a Military Advisory council, which will consist of veterans and family members so that I can learn what would be most beneficial to each generation of veterans. Many programs for veterans are Federal, but more can be done at the state level to assist our veterans.
The state of Indiana spends a little over $3 per veteran per year. This is a pittance in comparison to what our veterans have given to our state and our country. While care times lag at the VA medical centers, the state can and help Hoosier veterans get the care they need until services are available through the VA. Indiana can bridge the gap between when a veteran first applies for benefits and when they actually receive the benefits.
After the devastating loss of Carrier, Indianapolis residents are rightfully nervous. Carrier and similar companies have packed up good-paying jobs and moved them to Mexico in order to save money on labor. We must create incentives for employers to stay in Indiana where hard-working Hoosiers provide quality labor. We can do this through tax incentives and by providing the best trained workforce. We must make Indiana the place to be for highly trained workers. Unfortunately, Indiana ranks 42nd in the education of its workforce. I would propose increased funding for vocational and technical training so that unemployed and underemployed Hoosiers can qualify for the highly-skilled positions we want to bring to Indiana. I would also propose tax breaks for companies that relocate to our area and tax penalties for those that leave for another state or country.
The median income in Indiana dropped by $6500 from 2002 to 2015. This trend will not reverse until high-paying jobs return to Indiana. Those jobs won’t look like the manufacturing of the past, but will reflect Indiana’s investment in better technical training for high school students and skilled vocational training post-graduation. Indiana must invest in the education of its workers if it hopes to bring better paying jobs to Indiana. Our high school graduates need vocational and technical training in order to compete for the highly-skilled jobs Indiana hopes to attract in the coming years.
Last year, my opponent sponsored the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) in a thinly veiled attempt to legalize discrimination against LGBT Hoosiers. The CEOs of large Indiana businesses including Angie's List; Anthem; Cummins Inc.; Emmis Communications; Indiana University Health; Roche Diagnostics; Eli Lilly and Co.; Salesforce Marketing Cloud; and Dow AgroSciences called on the Legislature and Governor to repeal RFRA. After a national embarrassment in which Indiana almost lost the NCAA Final Four and GEN-CON Convention, the Legislature and Governor changed RFRA. However, my opponent still refused to vote for the changes.
However, this still leaves LGBT Hoosiers without protection for their employment, housing, and public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, and other services. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) matters to all Hoosiers. Not only is the right thing to do, overwhelmingly Hoosiers support equal rights for LGBT Hoosiers. A poll conducted in December 2015 by the Bellwether Research on behalf of Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce showed that 62% of Hoosiers support making it illegal to discriminate against LGBT Hoosiers.
Over 450 Indiana businesses, large and small, have signed a pledge to support LGBT rights in Indiana. Visit Indy announced that Indianapolis lost twelve conventions because of RFRA resulting in $60 million dollars in lost revenue. Indiana can't afford to wait. LGBT protection must happen sooner rather than later. I am supporting LGBT rights and when elected I will sponsor a bill to add gender identity and sexual orientation to Indiana’s existing civil rights’ codes.