News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Flashpoint

February 26, 2012

FLASHPOINT: Change coming to the Indiana Statehouse

The General Assembly is about to undergo a major face-lift. I’m not talking about new construction. I’m talking about destruction — partisan destruction, in fact.

After two of the ugliest and most divisive sessions in statehouse history, many legislators on both sides of the aisle — almost 20 house members in total — have wondered if the days of working together to get something done for Hoosier families are long gone. Republicans brought Washington-style politics to Indiana and it disgusted and discouraged legislators and Hoosier families alike. 

These retiring legislators have had great legislative careers and should be honored for their commitment to all Hoosiers. But in the face of this toxic environment and a hyperpartisan redistricting process, they decided against running for re-election. Who can blame them?

House Democrats believe it is only halftime for our party. Democrats believe the best way to do what Hoosier families want (to give a shot in the arm to the state’s economy) is to boost Hoosier small business owners.

That’s why we have proposed common-sense steps to boost Hoosier Small business owners. Our proposal will help them access the credit they need to expand as well as new incentives to create good paying jobs today — not tomorrow and not give false promises of possible jobs sometime in the future.

Our plan provides a $20 million loan program to help responsible small businesses access the capital they need to grow and create jobs. These resources will create jobs now on Main Street and in rural communities across Indiana.

Helping Indiana’s entrepreneurs and mom and pop shops, who make up approximately 97 percent of the private — sector employers and nearly half of the jobs, is a place where Democrats and Republicans can come together and get something done to help Hoosier workers during these challenging economic times. Sadly, as working families look to leaders in Indianapolis, they see Indiana Republicans using Washington political games as their guide, not Hoosier common sense. Indiana Republicans have decided to ram through the controversial right-to-work legislation as their first priority. Instead of bringing Hoosiers together, they’ve chosen to pit them against each other.

While the Republican partisanship won’t spur job creation, it has spurred one thing — Democratic recruitment efforts. Our efforts were beyond successful with an unprecedented number of Democratic candidates filing for office. We have great people running in all corners of the state.

Our base is energized and ready to take our message from house to house, street to street, and neighborhood to neighborhood. Thanks to the Republicans who have united our base: working families, educators caregivers and local businesses.

The upcoming election will be a referendum on one-party Republican rule at the statehouse. I believe it will be a great year for Democrats who have championed the voice of those ignored by the Republican majorities.

Democrats — new and old — are more than willing to join with Republicans to help struggling Hoosier families and move our state ahead. Supporting Hoosier small businesses is exactly that opportunity. Our common-sense plan would free our leaders from partisan deadlock to come together and find solutions to boost our economy and create jobs. That is the kind of construction all Hoosier families can value and the kind of construction Hoosier families deserve.

Rep. Patrick Bauer is a longtime legislator from South Bend, and former Speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives.

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