Middle School students were asked to answer the questions “What is climate change?” through drawing or painting. Winners were chosen based on the most creative and representative depictions of climate change. Over 450 submissions were received and winners will receive eco-friendly plaques commending their achievement.
Click here to view Phillips’ winning artwork along with other winners from Region 5.
Seasonally-adjusted total non-farm employment in Indiana increased by 22,700 in April. Sectors reporting significant employment increases include: Leisure and Hospitality (8,100), Professional and Business Services (6,500), Manufacturing (5,000), and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (3,500). Sectors reporting significant employment declines include: Private Education and Health Services (-1,800), Construction (-700), and Financial Activities (-500).
Indiana is the only state among its neighbors to report an over-the-year decline in its unemployment rate. The national employment rate increased 1.0% compared to April 2009.
During the 2010 Session, Senate Democrats helped to author and usher a number of bills through the legislative process to ensure a better quality of life for those who work in public safety, the armed forces, or are veterans.
Public Safety Officials
Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 281 will allow local law enforcement agencies to use money from the agency’s Firearms Training Fund to purchase body armor. The law will make technical changes that allow law enforcement agencies to use existing funds to purchase life-saving equipment.
The bill was unanimously approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives. It was signed into law by the governor March 12 and becomes effective July 1, 2010.
Lawmakers also approved a number of bills that will affect various retirement benefit programs in the state of Indiana. SEA 172 and House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1050, are two pieces of legislation that allow for a member of the 1977 Police and Firefighters Pension and Disability Fund to designate one or more beneficiaries to receive the member’s contributions to the fund plus interest if the member dies without collecting benefits. This initiative will help those that have not collected benefits or designated a beneficiary like a child, spouse or parent. These bills also provide that if a member does not specify a beneficiary, the member’s contributions and accumulated interest will be refunded to the member’s estate.
SEA 172 was unanimously approved by the Senate and House of Representatives, and was signed into law by the governor on March 12 taking effect immediately. HEA 1050 was also approved unanimously in both chambers and became effective retroactively to July 1, 2009.
Also concerning the 1977 Police and Firefighters Pension and Disability Fund is HEA 1127. The bill allows a member of the fund to purchase service credit at cost for the member’s prior service in a position covered by a public retirement fund. HEA 1127 will provide equity in the system by allowing those who serve our state to consolidate their time of service under one retirement plan. The bill was approved unanimously by the Senate and the House of Representatives in its original form and was sent to the governor March 11 for final action. The bill becomes effective July 1, 2010.
HEA 1165 protects a veteran’s service-connected benefits from being seized through legal action to collect a debt. The bill will place what is already federal law into state statute. HEA 1165 was unanimously approved in the House of Representatives and the Senate and was signed into law by the governor March 12. It will become effective July 1, 2010
HEA 1178 requires face-to-face assessments, rather than phone interviews, to be conducted during a clinical interview with a trained health care provider for Indiana National Guard servicemen and women returning from deployment. The new law will become effective July 1, 2010.
Watch the video below to hear how Senate Democrats will work to support those who serve.
Unless you have worked at the Indiana Statehouse for the last 50 years, you are probably wondering whether or not that sentence is in English. We are here to tell you that it is, in fact, English and just a few of the many terms you can find in a new glossary published by the Senate Democrats to make sure Hoosiers are in the know when it comes to legislative jargon.
Our Online Glossary of Legislative Terms contains over 200 different terms to help active citizens learn more about the Indiana General Assembly and acts as a quick reference guide for those that tune into legislative meetings and hear a word that they just can’t place.
So, next time the Senate President Pro Tempore calls for a blast motion, you’ll be able to look it up online here.
The State budget panel met Wednesday to review numerous fiscal issues facing the state. The panel, comprised of members of the General Assembly and the State Budget Office, heard reports on the impact of national health care reform on Indiana, the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) hybrid program, and the Helping Indiana Restart Employment (H.I.R.E) Program.
Impact of the Congressional Affordable Health care for America Act in Indiana:
Milliman, FSSA‘s contracted Medicaid actuary, testified before the Budget Committee about the potential impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health care for America Act on Indiana’s state budget. Milliman provided a worst-case scenario, projecting the maximum cost to the state to be $3.6 billion from State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2014 through SFY 2020. Milliman’s estimate assumes 100% participation – in other words, that every eligible Hoosier, even those already insured, would switch to Medicaid.
The panel did not address the benefits Hoosiers will receive from the new legislation. Benefits include an expansion of health care access for 700,000 people in Indiana and new guidelines for the regulation of insurance companies.
Budget Committee member State Senator John Broden (D-South Bend) pointed out that the main focus of the new reform should not solely be based on the cost of the program, but also the opportunity for hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers. Broden stated:
We’re potentially expanding coverage to Hoosiers at 10% of the cost. If anyone thinks that we would have more people insured through the private system had Congress not acted, they’re living in a dream world.
Listen to Senator Broden’s full statement from committee:
Milliman also indicated that the state would realize cost savings of about $246 million in the areas of children’s health care, breast and cervical cancer programs, and health care for pregnant women.
FSSA Modernization Review:
FSSA Secretary Anne Murphy addressed the Budget Committee regarding the expansion of the hybrid pilot program to the Vigo Region in June. The hybrid is a new version of the state’s system for public assistance eligibility determination and was introduced as a fix to the state’s failed privatized call center system that took away face-to-face interaction with caseworkers. The pilot program originated in the Vanderburgh Region, which includes Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Knox, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh, and Warrick counties and cost the state $10 million from December 2009 through March 2010.
Yesterday, the administration announced its goal to expand to the Vigo Region in June, encompassing Clay, Fountain, Greene, Monroe, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion, Vigo, and Warren counties. According to FSSA, the roll-out to the Vigo Region will likely cost the state an additional $10 million. Secretary Murphy indicated that similar costs would be incurred each time a new region switches to the hybrid system.
In August or September of 2010, FSSA hopes to expand the hybrid program into the Clark and Allen Regions, which would include Clark, Crawford, Dearborn, Floyd, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Lawrence, Martin, Ohio, Orange, Ripley, Scott, Switzerland, Washington, Adams, Allen, Dekalb, Huntington,
Jay, Kosciusko, Noble, Steuben, Wells, and Whitley counties.
In a response to a question posed by a Budget Committee member at the end of the testimony, Secretary Murphy stated that FSSA will not be paying any further claims from IBM. Since the termination of the state’s 10-year contract with the company, IBM has submitted claims totaling $125 million dollars. The state and IBM filed suit against each other today. In it’s filing, IBM seeks $50 million from the state, however it is unclear how much has been already paid in the lawsuit.
The panel also reviewed the Helping Indiana Restart Employment (H.I.R.E) Program which aims to provide emergency funding to subsidize private and public employers by encouraging the creation of new jobs for unemployed Hoosiers. These emergency funds are available through the TANF Emergency Fund established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program was authorized by the General Assembly in Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 23 and uses one-time federal stimulus funds that are still available to the state and would otherwise be left unused. The program, based on the Mississippi STEPs program, has been implemented in 20 other states and could potentially put 10,000 Hoosiers back to work. A speedy implementation of the program is important because federal funds are set to expire on September 30.
There is a bill moving through Congress that would extend the program for an additional year.
On May 20th, legislators and staff will meet to discuss the program and plan for its implementation. A representative from the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) will attend the meeting to provide technical assistance and explain how other states have benefited from the program.
According to a State Budget Agency report released today, state revenue came in $119 million above the April monthly target. This is the second month in a row that revenues have been above target. Even more important, the state’s fiscal year-to-date bottom line is now $55M above forecast*.
A few interesting points from this month’s report:
For the first time since October, sales tax revenue was above the target – by $24M.
This marks the first time in 17 months that Indiana’s monthly revenues were higher than they were one year prior.
The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported on Sunday that IBM Corp. is seeking $125 M from Indiana in the ongoing “disengagement” process after the failed FSSA privatization contact was cancelled. Gov. Daniels ended the contract last fall after more than two years of poor performance and complaints from Hoosiers.
IBM claims Indiana owes it more than $125 million for ending a controversial welfare contract, including $9.3 million for telephones, computer equipment and furniture.
The invoices reflect “disengagement services” – nearly half a million dollars in December and more than $680,000 in January, the most recent invoice available. The largest invoice, dated Oct. 23, bills Indiana more than $43 million for an annual “deferred fee,” part of the original cost of the contract, which was spread out over 10 years.
The documents also show the state fined IBM $115,000 for underperformance during five months last year. That’s about 1 percent of the $11.5 million in fixed fees the company was receiving each month to administer welfare benefits in 59 of the state’s 92 counties.
In less than three years, IBM had been paid about a quarter of the contract’s original $1.16 billion. The Daniels administration has said the state still saved money on the IBM system and will save money with a new, revised plan, based on projections of what each would cost. But the administration has said it can’t provide a cost-per-client comparison between the old system and the IBM-led system because there are too many variables.
So the question remains — when will Hoosiers see a full accounting of the IBM contract and how much it cost the state?