If Indiana Republicans had gone this route instead of undermining the middle class and busting unions, they might still be touting the so-called "Indiana Miracle" instead of complaining that their state is suddenly in "survival mode." But the past is the past, and Indiana Senate Democrats have just rolled out a major new initiative to help Hoosier families "survive" the mess Republicans have created: universal pre-K.
“The payoff is clear,” said [Senate Democratic Leader Tim] Lanane. “High-quality pre-k programs produce students who are more likely to graduate from high school, earn a higher income, own a home and less likely to require remediation or commit crimes. With this initiative, we can put all Hoosier children on the path toward success.”
In the oft-quoted words of Vice President Biden, "Show me your budget, and I will tell you what you value." And that's never been more true than with Indiana Republican legislators, who recently tried to push through a backdoor plan to cut "$40 million through 2020 by limiting the number of low income women covered for prenatal care under Medicaid."
The Republican proposal is not the result of declining need, as Indiana "still ranks near the bottom nationally in first trimester prenatal care and high in the number of preterm births, babies with low birth weights and infant mortality." And "research that shows reducing funding for pregnant women will lead to poorer care for mothers and their babies, more spending on health problems for the children later in life and higher infant mortality and low birth weights."
Nor did the GOP plan get any public hearing; its chief supporter urged legislators to insert the cuts secretly, behind closed doors in a House-Senate conference committee. And the Republican Chairman of the House Public Health Committee noted that "there had been no discussion before this week about cutting Medicaid benefits for pregnant women."
In a jaw-dropping moment on Tuesday, Republicans in the GOP-dominated Indiana General Assembly got their wires seriously crossed:
State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, who devised the plan, said Indiana schools are vulnerable to armed intruders and suggested mass shootings at Columbine, Colo.; Virginia Tech University; and Fort Hood, Texas, could have been prevented by armed personnel.
[Democratic state Rep. and former Hammond police captain Linda] Lawson pointed out that Columbine had an armed police officer in the building, Virginia Tech has its own campus police department and that pretty much everyone at an Army base knows how to shoot a gun.
Lucas responded by arguing abortion results in more annual deaths than gun accidents, at which point Brown, the committee chairman, halted the discussion and asked Lucas to leave the hearing. [emphasis added]
Indiana, like Louisiana, continues to provide "a model for the rest of the country" on what really happens to public education when Republicans gain power. In Louisiana's case, it was the revelation that taxpayer funds were being used to teach kids that the Loch Ness Monster is real, while in Indiana this week, Republicans decided that the way to fix struggling school districts is put high school dropouts in charge.
Dan Carden at the Northwest Indiana Times reports that a GOP-controlled state Senate committee "refused to add a master's degree requirement to House Bill 1357, which provides that school superintendents no longer must have the training and experience needed to obtain a teacher's or superintendent's license." Bill sponsor state Rep. Todd Huston (R) "admitted that means a school board could even hire a high school dropout."