News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 24, 2013

MARK BENNETT: Pondering what is meant by ‘quality of life’ to Hoosiers

TERRE HAUTE — Sometimes it’s sincere. Other times, it’s sarcasm.

You cross paths with a friend, ask how they’re doing, and they say, “Ah, just livin’ the dream.”

Livin’ the dream. What exactly does that involve? Can it be defined?

Indiana’s new governor, Mike Pence, closed his well-prepared first State of the State address Tuesday night with a comment that challenges Hoosiers — including Pence — to define that concept.

“This is Indiana’s moment,” Pence said, at the tail end of a half-hour speech that touted his proposed 10-percent income tax cut, an expansion of the still-fledgling school voucher program, and upgraded vocational training in high schools. “We can put Hoosiers back to work and make Indiana first — first in job creation, first in education, and first in quality of life.”

Categories 1 and 2 seem pretty clear. In the first, existing employers expand operations and hire more people, while incoming businesses set up shop in Indiana and generate new jobs. In the second, kids reach their learning potential in vibrant, well-resourced K-through-12 schools, and further bloom in high-caliber colleges and technical training institutes. In both cases, the methods of achieving those goals stir constant debate, but the target remains reasonably obvious.

Then comes Category 3 — America’s best “quality of life.”

With job creation and education as separate considerations, what other criteria make up a great “quality of life,” or — in everyday terms — that feeling of “livin’ the dream”?

For some, cheap taxes alone amount to a dream come true, and that perk enhances all else in their world. If so, Pence’s idea to shrink Indiana’s already low individual income tax rate to 3.06 percent from 3.4 percent may single-handedly do the trick. After all, as the governor emphasized, by enacting his tax cut, “It will be official: Indiana will be the lowest taxed state in the Midwest. Companies who are here will have one more reason to expand and will give businesses outside Indiana one more reason to move to the Hoosier state.”

But that sounds more like Category 1, job creation.

One common quality-of-life element gets mentioned less by Indiana’s leaders than by typical Hoosiers — income levels. The state is far from first in the nation in those rankings. Indiana rates 31st in median household income — the combined incomes of adults living in one home. Indiana ranks 37th in per-capita income — a figure calculated by dividing the total income in a geographic area by the population, counting everybody.

Median household incomes here are $46,438, just 91.9 percent of the national figure of $50,502. In 2007, we ranked 30th. In 2004, 26th. In 2002, 23rd. The last time Indiana topped the national median household income was 1997 through ’99, according to an essay by Indiana economist Morton Marcus. From 1984 to 2011, Hoosier inflation-adjusted median household incomes rose 0.2 percent, while U.S. rates climbed 0.4 percent.

In per-capita income, Indiana ranked 17th in 1965, 33rd in 2000, according to a 2002 Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute report, “Indiana Is Falling Behind.” Again, the latest figures rank the state 37th. That report from 11 years ago stated the “national and international economy has changed fundamentally in the past 40 years. Indiana — by the standard of our citizens’ incomes and wealth — has not.”

Quality of life goes beyond incomes, in many folks’ definitions. A 2009 study by Gallup and the disease management company Healthways considered not only median incomes, but also poverty rates, life expectancy, and survey answers on life satisfaction, work quality, healthy behavior, physical health, emotional health and basic access to food and shelter, according to Forbes magazine.

To his credit, Pence acknowledged the state’s 22-percent child-poverty rate (which is persistently higher in Terre Haute), aptly calling it “heartbreaking” and “unacceptable,” and cited plans to assist kids in those situations and provide early childhood education to steer them away from continuing that cycle. If Indiana wants the nation’s finest quality of life, child-poverty reduction efforts must succeed.

Is a long life your idea of livin’ the dream? Indiana rates 35th in life expectancy, averaging 77.7 years.

Maybe it’s a healthy and contented family, peaceful relationships, clean air, clean water, low crime, good restaurants, quality state parks, safe places to hunt and fish, highways that aren’t crumbling, or a job that utilizes your full abilities.

The governor may have his own definition of “quality of life.” His view matters because he’s the chief policymaker.

But beyond an economy with peak job creation and top-notch educational opportunities, what does quality of life amount to for you? What would your “livin’ the dream” be? Send me an email response to the address below. (Just emails, please. And be sincere; sarcasm spoils the dream.)

Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or mark.bennett@tribstar.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
  • Purdue Shooting2.jpg Purdue shooting leaves one person dead

    A Purdue University engineering student opened fire inside a basement classroom Tuesday, killing a teaching assistant and prompting officials to put the campus on lockdown, police and the university said.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 042014 DOUBLE-DEATH.jpg 2 bodies found in Pimento home

    Police were at the scene of a death investigation on Sunday in southern Vigo County.
    “It’s a double death investigation,” Vigo County Chief Deputy Clark E. Cottom told the Tribune-Star at the scene.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Purdue Shooting_Will.jpg THS grad Miller among students in adjacent building when shooting occurs

    Kris Miller and his roommate were in a computer lab of Purdue’s mechanical engineering building Tuesday when they received a call that a shooting had occurred next door.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bosma Bosma moves gay marriage ban bill to friendlier committee

    Republican House of Representatives Speaker Brian Bosma sent a bill that proposes a constitutional ban on gay marriage to a more conservative-leaning legislature committee Tuesday, because it lacked support on the first committee to which it was assigned.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET012014 snowtracks.jpg We enter the deep freeze again

    If you had to step outside to get your newspaper this morning, you might have noticed it’s painfully cold once again.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET012014busses weir.jpg Levy redirects school funds

    If the new “protected levy” legislation goes into effect later this year, it would mean “a substantial reduction” in revenue for Vigo County School Corp. bus transportation, capital projects and bus replacement funds, according to the district’s chief financial officer.

    January 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • School debt levy redirects funds across Indiana

    School officials and state legislators from around the state are searching for ways to keep the school buses running — and children safe on the streets — pending the loss of millions of dollars for school transportation.
    More than 50 school districts in Indiana stand to lose at least 20 percent of their revenues for transportation, new buses and other big-ticket projects under a new law that requires them to first pay off their debts.

    January 21, 2014

  • MET 012114 DONNELLY BOARD.jpg VIDEO: Sen. Donnelly updates T-S editorial board

    Passage of a long overdue U.S. farm bill could be completed by the end of this month, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said Tuesday.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo 1 Video

  • Vigo coroner tries again for salary increase

    After being denied last year, Vigo County Coroner Dr. Susan Amos is again seeking to have her county salary increased to match that of several other county office holders.

    January 21, 2014

  • SPT041614 morrismorris.jpg BOSTON MARATHON: Not intimidated

    One reason Mike Morris — and many runners can relate — has been a distance runner for 30 years is it’s restorative powers. Not to the body but to the mind.

    April 20, 2014 4 Photos

  • MET 041814 HUXFORD PAT.jpg Overcoming symptoms

    Even when he was in grade school, it was obvious Justin Huxford was a special kid.
    He was the first at Rio Grande Elementary School to walk 100 miles around the school grounds over the school year, one of just a handful of kids to meet the goal.

    April 20, 2014 3 Photos

  • MET 042014 POWELL EASTER.jpg Answering the call

    Static was the only thing on TV or radio. People were on their knees as they prayed. It was, as if for three whole days, the world stood still.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • TH wins 8th Tree City USA ‘Growth’ award

    Terre Haute was named a 2013 Tree City USA by the Arbor Day Foundation in honor of its commitment to effective urban forest management.

    April 20, 2014

  • ISU hosts Ukraine panel today

    In Ruth Fairbanks’ morning commute to work recently, she heard two news stories on the radio about Ukraine. Considering her drive-time is just five minutes, it demonstrates how unstable — and newsworthy — Eastern Europe is these days.

    April 20, 2014

  • MET041714 harvest hands.jpg Their dream rises: Mother-daughter duo team up to expand eastside bakery

    As she gently formed a round sourdough, Marta Shelton seemed to hold her dreams in the palm of her hands.

    April 20, 2014 3 Photos

  • MET041814church medina cut.jpg Church resurrected: Prairie Creek church that burned in the midst of a winter storm ready for rebirth

    From the ashes of a devastating winter fire comes out a church reborn.

    April 19, 2014 4 Photos

  • Vigo School Board to approve central pool bond resolution

    On Monday, the Vigo County School Board will receive an update on a planned, $9.8 million aquatics center that will be built in Voorhees Park.

    April 19, 2014

  • Kokomo Tornado 02.JPG Inconsistent help: FEMA’s disaster decisions frustrate state, local leaders

    Pamela Jackson thought she was lucky to escape harm as a tornado bore down on her neighborhood last November. She huddled in a bathroom with her two disabled sons, critically ill husband and six other family members as the twister blew out windows and tore the roof off her house. Hers was one of scores of homes and businesses in Howard County that were damaged or demolished by the storm.

    April 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • MET 041814 ROBOT BRUBAKER.jpg Gearing up

    A team of Vigo County high school students — and its robot — are gearing up to compete against 127 teams from throughout the world in an upcoming international robotics competition.

    April 18, 2014 5 Photos

  • MET041714 little library.jpg VCPL to install free ‘little libraries’

    Coming soon to a neighborhood near you: A Little Free Library.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Flaws in new ed standards ‘too substantial’

    A State Board of Education member formally requested Friday that an education panel abandon a proposed overhaul of Indiana’s education standards and instead recommend that the state’s previous benchmarks be reinstated in classrooms this fall.

    April 18, 2014

  • Spike in mumps cases reported across Illinois

    SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Public health officials are investigating a sharp increase in the number of mumps cases recorded in central Illinois.

    April 18, 2014

  • Police: Fatal fire began with dropped cigarette

    SANTA CLAUS, Ind. (AP) — State police say a fatal house fire in a southern Indiana town began when a disabled woman dropped a cigarette.

    April 18, 2014

  • Board member asks for old Indiana school standards

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A State Board of Education member is calling for a proposed overhaul of Indiana’s education standards to be ditched and that the state’s old benchmarks be reinstated in classrooms this fall.

    April 18, 2014

  • MET 041714 BOOKS OUABACHE.jpg A real page turner

    Victory was sweet for the Franklin Elementary teammates, who won their first ever Battle of the Books competition Thursday at Meadows Elementary.

    April 17, 2014 6 Photos

  • MET041714 bucshon.jpg Rep. Bucshon leads discussion on minority care in Vigo County

    The list of problems seems endless: Lack of health insurance, mental illness, cultural barriers and stigmas about routine medical check ups, to name only a few.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vigo County students, educators recently made a 2-week trip to Terre Haute’s sister city of Tajimi

    Six Vigo County high school students and two educators, including superintendent Dan Tanoos, recently returned from a two-week cultural exchange trip to Tajimi, Japan.

    April 17, 2014

  • tsBennett Tribune-Star columnist named company’s best

    The Tribune-Star’s Mark Bennett has been named CNHI’s Columnist of the Year for 2013 in its large newspaper division.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Clay man arrested on drug charges

    An eight-month investigation by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies resulted in the arrest of Wednesday of a Clay County man on meth-related charges, authorities said.

    April 17, 2014

  • Drug raid leads to arrest of siblings

    Siblings were arrested Thursday after police said they discovered an active meth lab in a Terre Haute home, authorities said.

    April 17, 2014

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Obamas Attend Easter Service Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Raw: Easter Morning Delivery for Space Station Raw: Crowds Rally at '420' Celebration in Denver Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash New York Auto Show Highlights Latest in Car Tech Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy Raw: Ferry Captain Received Medical Treatment Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Marathoners Celebrate Easter With Tradition Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus
NDN Video
Hundreds Gather for Denver Pot Rally on Easter Dr. Phil Put In The Hot Seat By His Own Wife Jabari Parker's Top 5 Plays From Duke Career Kourtney Kardashian Is a Bikini Babe More Manpower Than Ever Expected At 4/20 Rally Debunk'd: Miley Cyrus AIDS, Cheeseburgers Cause Cancer, Military Warning Bill Previewing the NBA playoffs Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite My name is Cocaine Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Lohan Gets Candid About Her Sex List The 2014 New York Auto Show Meet Johnny Manziel's New Girlfriend Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy Funny: Celebrating Easter with Martha Stewart and Friends Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Man hit with $525 federal fine after he doesn't pay for soda refill Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity