INDIANAPOLIS – Freshman Governor Eric Holcomb has made fighting the opioid crisis a top priority…for the 2019 legislative session. The governor is refusing to provide additional resources this year, subscribing to Statehouse lore that lawmakers skip budget issues during short legislative sessions. Meanwhile, the crisis is ballooning out of control and Holcomb’s own drug czar says the skimpy $5 million the state spends annually isn’t enough.
The Indianapolis Star Indiana likely won’t put more money toward fighting opioid epidemic next year
“Sen. Jim Merritt, who was responsible for much of the opioid legislation last legislative session, and Holcomb’s appointed drug czar, Jim McClelland, say $5 million a year just isn’t enough.
It’s still not enough in many advocates’ eyes.
“It’s frustrating that we’re still talking and still deciding and not doing,” said Justin Phillips, founder of Overdose Lifeline, which provides prevention tools, distributes Naloxone and offers support during recovery. “People are dying.”
“We have a $250 million problem in the state … $10 million just scratches the surface,” Merritt said. “We got caught unaware, and we’re losing right now…”
For comparison, lawmakers earmarked $15 million annually to the Business Promotion and Innovation Fund. This while business leaders describe a job market where finding an employee who can pass a drug screen as a major issue.
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody questioned the governor’s decision.
“Hoosiers are suffering. We need to mobilize resources right now, not when it’s convenient for the governor,” said Zody. “Senator Merritt is right, we’re losing. The governor’s own drug czar says we aren’t doing enough. Will the governor admit holding off until next year was a mistake and make additional resources available to turn back this crisis right now?”
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody issued the following statement on Organization Day.
“Indiana ranks in the bottom 10 nationally for educational attainment, an indicator of workforce preparedness. It’s been that way for more than a decade. Wage growth is just as dismal. It’s clear our current trajectory won’t put Hoosiers on the fast-track toward bigger paychecks and better skills, yet Governor Holcomb and Statehouse Republicans appear intent to tinker rather than reform. Holcomb and Republicans might be comfortable with the status quo, but big problems call for bold solutions. More of the same won’t cut it. Hoosiers won’t wait another decade for higher wages and better skills. Session is rapidly approaching. Statehouse Democrats are already releasing policy details focused on lifting up hardworking Hoosiers. If Statehouse Republicans aren’t leading with big ideas, how exactly are they earning their taxpayer-funded salaries?”
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody issued the following statement upon the release of October 2017 employment statistics.
“That Indiana’s unemployment rate continues to creep up is concerning. More troubling is the continued sluggish growth of Hoosiers’ incomes. Hoosier families are acutely aware of Indiana’s anemic, unequal growth every time they’re forced to stretch their paychecks further at the grocery store checkout or gas station.”
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody issued the following statement upon Vice President Mike Pence’s return to Indiana.
“Vice President Mike Pence is back in Indiana and is desperate for a win. He’s here selling President Trump’s tax plan, but Hoosiers still aren’t buying the lopsided tax cuts Pence signed into law as Indiana governor. Since enacting those cuts, Hoosiers’ incomes have grown slower than the national average. The average Hoosier household saw a reduction of about $50. Top earners saw their tax bills decrease by $1,500 and taxes paid by some corporations fell by hundreds of millions of dollars. Working Hoosiers want a tax code that grows paychecks and good-paying jobs and where everyone pays their fair share – not one that can’t even stick to a budget resolution that adds $1.5 trillion to the debt and rewards corporations that ship jobs overseas.
“The Vice President would be wise to engage lawmakers like Joe Donnelly and work across the aisle to deliver tax reform that works for middle-class Hoosiers. Repeating Indiana’s mistake and delivering results for only the wealthiest Americans simply won’t cut it.”
INDIANAPOLIS – Statehouse Republicans have been talking about workforce development, the skills gap and how they plan to close it for more than a decade. Look at the underlying numbers however, and their policies have made nearly zero progress in increasing educational attainment or Hoosiers’ paychecks.
In ten years, Indiana has barely moved the needle on educational attainment, edging up the number of Hoosiers ages 25 to 64 with an Associate degree or higher from 42nd in 2005 to 40th in 2015. Hoosiers’ incomes have also made little upward progress. Between 2000 and 2016, Hoosiers’ real wages grew by just 0.1 percent.
The scale of these issues demands a larger, more defined action plan. With little progress toward increased educational attainment and stalled wage growth, Governor Holcomb appears to be nibbling along the edges rather than implementing bold policy to meet these challenges.
“Hoosiers are rightfully frustrated. The governor’s agenda is more of the same at a time when the rising cost of living is squeezing working Hoosiers’ paychecks more than ever,” said Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody. “How will the governor’s agenda raise Hoosiers’ incomes? How will it expand access to opioid treatment? Talking about reaching the “next level” isn’t enough. Hoosiers want to see a clear, tangible plan to achieve these goals. More of the same isn’t going to cut it.”
Chairman Zody expressed skepticism that freshman Governor Eric Holcomb’s “new” workforce development plan is any different from Statehouse Republicans’ past efforts.
“Statehouse Republicans have been peddling the same empty promises about skilling up the Hoosier workforce for more than a decade, yet their actions prove otherwise” said Zody. “The governor likes to cite rankings. Just look at the numbers, past efforts haven’t made a dent. Hoosier workers just want a shot at gaining the skills to earn bigger paychecks. If past performance is any indicator, Governor Holcomb’s plan won’t be that opportunity any more than past Republican efforts were.”