Qaddoura Op-ed: Open the Budget and Invest in All Hoosiers

Published On: July 19th, 2022Categories: Caucus, Fady Qaddoura

Word count: 551

Next week, the Indiana General Assembly will convene in response to the Governor’s call to restrict women’s reproductive care and approve sending $225 relief checks to Hoosiers, an action that will cost Hoosier taxpayers over $250,000 just to convene the legislature. Last week, we learned that Indiana’s surplus has swollen to $6.1 billion dollars, thanks in large part to the federal funding provided in 2020 and 2021, which boosted our economy and consequently, state tax collections. Given the unprecedented surplus, I am calling on the Governor and Republican leadership to open the budget and use the special session to address real problems that Hoosiers are facing.

Indiana is at a crossroads. Unfortunately, the past 20 years of state legislation and policies have sent Indiana’s state rankings on critical measures such as education and healthcare to the bottom ten compared to the rest of the nation. With over $6 billion in combined balances, the General Assembly has an opportunity to act boldly to correct course and start making up for 20 years of underinvesting by approving the following pro-family relief and rescue funding package:

  • Appropriate $1 billion for K-12 funding to help public schools recruit and retain staff and teachers to fill the more than 4,000 job openings. Waiting until next year’s budget session, which concludes at the end of April 2023, means that Indiana students, teachers and schools will be shortchanged throughout the 2022-23 school year.
  • Increase relief checks from $225 to $400 for single filers who make up to $75,000 in income and $800 for joint filers who make up to $150,000 and include retirees such as teachers, firefighters, police officers, military, local public sector retirees, and recipients of social security disability. This plan would send an estimated $1.7 billion to more than 4.2 million Hoosier taxpayers, retirees and recipients of social security disability.
  • Invest $1 billion in Hoosier families, mothers and children. This pro-family funding includes $250 million to meet the Governor’s Public Health Commission’s goals; $250 million to expand eligibility for On My Way Pre-K; $250 million to improve maternal health as Indiana currently ranks 3rd worst maternal mortality rate in the nation and many pregnant women currently go without the care they need; and $250 million to expand and improve access to mental health care, especially for young Hoosiers, a health fact that was recently highlighted by Health Commissioner Dr. Box.

These three priorities would still leave Indiana with sufficient reserves to help protect our state from future economic downturns while providing much-needed relief and investments. State leaders shouldn’t hesitate to invest this additional revenue in a fiscally responsible way that will position Indiana for future growth. We can’t afford reluctant leadership given the urgency of the current circumstances. Hoosiers are feeling the pain of inflation through increased gas prices, rising rents, utilities, groceries and deteriorating local roads and infrastructure. Rather than holding relief funding hostage to behind-closed-doors infighting within the different factions of the supermajority who are focused on punishing women and physicians for accessing reproductive care, we should act now, act boldly, and focus on policy, protect individual liberty and refrain from extreme government overreach.

It’s the General Assembly’s responsibility to act swiftly to ensure that we listen to Hoosiers and address the issues that are impacting them.

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