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May 30, 2020

3/28/2012 10:53:00 AM
A do-nothing legislative session
State Rep. Dave Cheatham

The end of any legislative session causes conflicting feelings for those of us who take part in the process.

You go into any session hoping that you can pass a few bills that can help improve the lives of the people of Indiana. You want to see things done that get Hoosiers back to work, help them earn a decent wage, make their lives safer, and improve the quality of the education their children receive.

As the 2012 session of the Indiana General Assembly ended earlier this month, none of these things come to my mind.

Instead, I wonder if the people of this state would have been better off if the legislature had not met at all this year.

Some will look at what we have done these past two months and find something to praise.

There will be talk about finding more funding for full-day kindergarten, speeding up an "automatic taxpayer refund" and creating a study committee to look into a broken state system that has played a role in the deaths of dozens of children through abuse and neglect since 2007.

Accomplishments of the type just mentioned do not solve the problems they were supposed to answer. Full-day kindergarten still will not be available to all children in Indiana. The "refund" is actually only a credit on your taxes, which means you won't see an extra cent. A study committee to examine the state's ability to protect children is needed, but it doesn't repair a system that needs immediate attention.

There was only one "accomplishment" this session. We made "right to work for less" the law of the land in Indiana. Our chief job creation plan in 2012 is an idea with a lengthy, documented history of not creating jobs.

That is all we did. Here is what we could have done:

Indiana small businesses could have been given the tools needed to help them hire unemployed Hoosiers and veterans.

Hoosiers could have been guaranteed first crack at jobs financed through your tax dollars.

Employers who take your tax dollars would have been held accountable if they failed to create jobs.

Every child could have had the chance to attend full-day kindergarten free of charge.

All families could have had a tax deduction for education expenses.

All families could have had a break from the textbook tax.

All families could have had a holiday from paying sales taxes on school clothing and supplies for their kids.

Families could have had a tax credit on child care expenses.

The state of Indiana could have been mandated to use the funds we appropriated for protecting children, rather than returning it to build an already swollen state surplus.

None of these things happened. The House majority rejected them.

As a result, we wrapped up this session having done nothing for families across this state. The only people who benefitted from this session were the shareholders and executives at our state's largest businesses and corporations.

In the weeks to come, we will take a closer look at what could have happened this session and what actually did happen this year.

As you review the record, don't be too surprised if you find yourself asking for your money back.

As you know, I am leaving office at the end of my term later this year. However, I will continue to be there if you have any questions, comments or concerns. Please don't hesitate to call if you need my help.

Here's how you can stay in touch:

Call my office toll-free at 1-800-382-9842;

Write to me in care of the Indiana House of Representatives, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204; or

Email me at H69@in.gov.

(A Democrat from North Vernon, Cheatham represents Indi­ana House Dis­trict 69, which includes Big­ger, Center, Camp­bell, Col-

umbia, Geneva, Lovett, Mont­­gomery, Sand Creek, Spencer and Vernon townships in Jennings County; Otter Creek and Shelby townships in Ripley County; and all of Jefferson County. He was elected to the position in 2006, '08 and '10, and previously served from 1984 to 1992.)

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