July 13, 2019

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Indiana, Latest News

DGA Statement on Eric Holcomb Re-Election Announcement

Today, the Democratic Governors Association Communications Director David Turner released the following statement regarding Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s announcement he is running for re-election:

“Hoosiers are still waiting for do-nothing Gov. Eric Holcomb to show up for them. When educators needed a pay raise to combat a statewide teacher shortage, Holcomb stiffed them. While Hoosiers wait for their wages to grow, Holcomb doled out high-paying jobs to his political cronies. Holcomb’s own Child Services Department Director said a continuation of Holcomb’s do-nothing policies on child protection will ‘all but ensure children will die.’ Do-nothing Holcomb’s failure to lead has devastating consequences for Hoosiers.

Educators, vulnerable children and working Hoosiers deserve better. We will hold do-nothing Holcomb accountable next year for his failure to lead.”

BACKGROUND:

Education Experts Say Indiana’s Lingering Teacher Shortage is Being Driven in Part by a Drop in Teacher’s Pay, Earning 16 Percent Less Than Two Decades Ago, Even as Educators are Being Asked to Do More in the Classroom. According to the Associated Press, “Education experts say Indiana’s lingering teacher shortage is being driven in part by a drop in teacher’s pay even as educators are being asked to do more in the classroom. The U.S. Department of Education said that in Indiana, inflation-adjusted teacher pay has fallen since the 1999-2000 school year to the point where teachers now earn almost 16 percent less than they did two decades ago. ‘While every teacher understands the demands of the profession, those demands have increased over the years without compensation or respect for the profession,’ Munster Teachers Association President Ryan Ridgley told The (Northwest Indiana) Times.” [Associated Press, 6/10/18]

IndyStar Reported, “After Legislative Leaders Teased a Plan to Make Significant Increases in Pay for the State’s Teachers, Gov. Eric Holcomb Said Last Week That He’d Like to See the Legislature Study the Issue First and Come Up With a Plan to Make Substantive Increases in the Next Budget Session, Two Years From Now.” According to the Indianapolis Star, “It’s entirely possible, though, that lawmakers will do little to address teacher pay in the upcoming session. After legislative leaders teased a plan to make significant increases in pay for the state’s teachers, Gov. Eric Holcomb said last week that he’d like to see the legislature study the issue first and come up with a plan to make substantive increases in the next budget session, two years from now. ‘We’re being very, not just methodological but, careful to get this right,’ Holcomb said when rolling out his agenda last week, ‘and any time you move one piece of the puzzle, it affects another.’ Holcomb is calling for an increase in general k-12 funding this biennium, with the hope it would get to teachers. But any increase in tuition support is likely to be small — maybe enough to match inflation — and there is no mechanism right now to ensure any increases are passed on to teachers by local school districts. Lawmakers have been warning for several weeks that the next fiscal year will be a tight one for Indiana. House Speaker Brian Bosma said as much as 75 percent of new revenues will have to go to the state’s embattled Department of Child Services, leaving little money to fund other priorities in the coming year.” [Indianapolis Star, 12/10/18]

Journal Gazette Editorial: “Business-friendly state doing less for workers.” According to the Journal Gazette, “State and regional wage numbers confirm the bad news for those still working. Earnings growth nationally was 2.7 percent over the past decade, but Indiana wages grew at just 2.4 percent. Economist Morton Marcus, director emeritus of the Indiana Business Research Center, points out that Hoosiers overall would have earned an additional $5.4 billion last year if the state had matched the national growth in earnings.” [Journal Gazette, 1/21/18]

Journal Gazette Headline: Governor pays big for talent. According to the Journal Gazette, “At the end of Mike Pence’s tenure, he had 16 full-time staffers paid from the governor’s office budget, making $1.27 million in total. Right now, Holcomb has 17 full-time staffers paid from governor’s office funds making $1.5 million.” [Journal Gazette, 7/30/17]

In December 2017, the Longtime Director of the Indiana Department of Child Services’ Letter of Resignation Lashed Out at Holcomb’s Office, Warning That a Continuation of its Policies Will “All But Ensure Children Will Die.” According to the Indianapolis Star, “In her letter of resignation, the longtime director of the Indiana Department of Child Services lashed out at the governor’s office, warning that a continuation of its policies will ‘all but ensure children will die,’ IndyStar has learned. Mary Beth Bonaventura, who has worked in child welfare for 36 years, said she could no longer in good conscience stand by and watch Hoosier children ‘being systematically placed at risk, without the ability to help them.’ ‘I feel I am unable to protect children because of the position taken by your staff to cut funding and services to children in the midst of the opioid crisis,’ she wrote in the Dec. 12 letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb. ‘I choose to resign, rather than be complicit in decreasing the safety, permanency and well-being of children who have nowhere else to turn.’ Without serious changes, Bonaventura warned, ‘I fear lives will be lost and families ruined.’” [Indianapolis Star, 12/18/17]

IndyStar Headline: In first year, Gov. Eric Holcomb sidesteps conflict, lacks defining moments. According to the IndyStar, “In his first year in office, Gov. Eric Holcomb has ruffled few feathers — a testament to the longtime political aide’s low-key, fun-loving and pragmatic style. But Holcomb’s efforts to avoid many of the divisive topics that defined his predecessor have also left something of a void — many Hoosiers still know little about him and critics say his agenda is devoid of big ideas.”  [Indianapolis Star, 1/7/18]