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 email@example.com.
TERRE HAUTE —
Sometimes it’s sincere. Other times, it’s sarcasm.
Sheriff: Investigation affecting department’s current police work
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Department is putting the best possible face on a string of allegations lodged against one of its deputies.
Greencastle Council seat will remain vacant for now
The Greencastle City Council is still waiting to learn the appropriate next step in dealing with one of its members who is facing federal allegations of civil rights violations while in his role as a Putnam County deputy.
Former pitcher Tommy John now saving lives
Terre Haute native Tommy John is well known for his illustrious major league baseball career, which spanned 26 years and included 288 victories.
Downtown housing project on schedule
Demolition of buildings fronting Wabash Avenue from Sixth Street west to Fifth Street is on schedule to be completed by the end of this month, with construction of a new five-story building to house Indiana State University students and retail shops starting in April, said Nicole King, marketing coordinator for Thompson Thrift.
Where no one follows the law
Loughmiller’s Pub across Washington Street from the Statehouse is a favorite hangout for legislators and lobbyists who like the tavern’s menu of gourmet burgers and craft beers. State police are regular lunch customers, as are state officials who regulate the sale of alcohol.
Terre Haute man facing felony arson charges
A Terre Haute man faces a charge of class-B felony arson in connection with an August garage fire.
Stolen gun, drugs found in search after traffic stop
A traffic stop Monday night on Third Street led to the arrest of a Terre Haute man on drug-related charges and recovery of a stolen handgun that had belonged to a Vigo County Sheriff’s Department reserve deputy.
Vigo election board to give presentation at NAACP meeting
A presentation by the Vigo County Election Board will be the focus for the March 17 meeting of the Greater Terre Haute Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Merom Water being acquired by Indiana American Water
Merom Water, a municipal water utility with approximately 125 customers, has been acquired by Indiana American Water, the company announced on Tuesday.
Vigo County Council approves software updates
A software upgrade that aids Vigo County emergency dispatch officers could be adapted to allow citizens to send in photographs of accidents.
ISTEP+ testing begins today in Indiana
The student body of Woodrow Wilson Middle School issued a collective battle cry on Monday as it began a week of standardized testing.
Red Cross kicks off fundraising campaign
Disaster can hit at any time, whether from a tornado or fire that leaves a family homeless.
Man arrested on multiple burglary charges
A Montezuma man has been arrested in connection with residential burglaries in Parke and Vigo counties and on suspicion of illegal sale of firearms.
$1.4 million revamp of Third Street in works
Plans to spruce up Third Street through downtown are taking shape.
New principal picked for Hoosier Prairie
Hoosier Prairie Elementary has a new principal, Jennifer Russell, effective today.
Possible bookkeeping 'abnormalities' under scrutiny at TH airport
State authorities are investigating possible “bookkeeping abnormalities” at the Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.
UPDATE: Putnam deputy indicted
A Putnam County Sheriff’s deputy who also serves as a Greencastle city councilman has been indicted by a federal grand jury on allegations of deprivation of civil rights in his police duties, and he has been placed on administrative leave as a deputy.
Police: Meth organization dismantled in Vigo County
Five people face criminal charges after police dismantled an alleged methamphetamine organization in Vigo County, according to an Indiana State Police news release.
Canvasing families: Mothers confront life with diabetic children
Four Wabash Valley mothers who sat around a circular table Thursday night couldn’t hold back tears as they talked about their children’s battles with a lifelong disease and their hopes for helping other affected families.
MAX JONES: Newspapers can be fun, too; check out Readers’ Choice
Smart and savvy newspaper readers (that’s all of you, of course) know full well that their daily consumption of news and information isn’t an exclusively high-brow pursuit.
Changed wording to SJR-9 delays debate on right to hunt, fish
A much-debated ban on same-sex marriage wasn’t the only proposed constitutional amendment to get knocked off of this November’s ballot. Gone, too, is the less contentious proposal to protect Hoosiers’ right to hunt and fish.
You’re home now: A veteran’s Midwest move that almost wasn’t
To say that Michael Curry was stressed is an understatement.
A service member who has been in the U.S. Army for more than 21 years, he had just arrived in Vigo County with his family — wife, four teen-age children, mother-in-law and two dogs — when he learned the home loan he had obtained in Texas was denied.
Valley lawmakers assess legislative session’s trials, tribulations
As state legislators head into the final week of the state legislative session, five of them from the Wabash Valley met with citizens Saturday at the Vigo County Public Library in downtown Terre Haute and engaged in conversation about the “ups and downs” of the recent session.
Families often unaware of helpful groups for kids with disabilities
One Saturday morning event in Terre Haute aimed to raise awareness about the resources available to people with disabilities.
Spotting pot, gun in home nets 2 arrests.
Two adults were arrested and two children removed from a Vigo County home on Friday after drugs and a handgun with altered serial numbers were discovered in the home, authorities said.
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY: Focus on poverty, inequality
The issues of poverty and inequality will be at the forefront of the 13th annual Terre Haute Human Rights Day on March 18 at Indiana State University.
VIDEO: Tasting their way to a cure
People appeared to be in high spirits Friday inside the historic Indiana Theatre as they gathered for an evening of wine, food and conversation while supporting efforts to find a cure for breast cancer.
Same-sex marriage: 4 couples sue state over ban
Four gay couples from southern Indiana sued the state Friday, seeking to force Indiana to recognize same-sex marriages from out of state and issue licenses to same-sex couples.
Time to check smoke alarms
Three years after a house fire on South Nine Street in Terre Haute resulted in the death of three people, a Terre Haute grandmother still wonders if the outcome of that fire would have been different if smoke detectors in the home had been working.
Indiana State Board extends president’s contract
Indiana State University has signed up Dan Bradley, the school’s president, for an additional three years of service.
- More News Headlines
- Sheriff: Investigation affecting department’s current police work