Indiana economic outlook revised downward

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana’s economic outlook was revised slightly downward on Thursday as members of the State Budget Committee publicly reviewed the most recent state revenue forecast. State Senator Karen Tallian, the top Senate Democrat on the influential panel, was troubled by the updated forecast, especially by indicators suggesting anemic progress in wage growth.

“There is no way around it, Indiana’s economy is flat-lining,” said Tallian. “Forecasters are predicting what Hoosier households already know: incomes are stuck in a decade-long holding pattern. The numbers don’t lie. The Pence economic agenda has been very good for big corporations, banks and the wealthy while leaving working Hoosiers behind.”

The Revenue Forecast Technical Committee revised their estimate of Indiana’s revenue forecast, now projecting revenue generated from income tax collection in 2016 to grow just 0.3 percent from 2015. The updated forecast also shows revenue generated from corporate tax collections declining by 10.5 percent from 2015. Republican leaders sold controversial tax cuts for high earners, big banks, and corporations in 2011, 2013, and 2014 by promising that more economic activity would replace revenue lost by tax cuts. Recent analysis from the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency estimates the total loss in revenue due to tax cuts will reach more than $6 billion by 2023.*

“The promise has failed. The economic boom and revenue has not come pouring in,” said Tallian. “We will have shelled out billions in tax cuts and have nothing to show for it beyond a superficial magazine ranking.”

Tallian has been highly critical of the administration’s insistence on corporate tax relief when Indiana household incomes continue to sag. According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only five states had slower personal income growth than Indiana between 2013 and 2014. Tallian also noted an alarming trend in the number of Hoosiers eligible for Medicaid.

“By 2017, it’s estimated that 1.5 million Hoosiers will be on Medicaid. This represents almost a quarter of our state population, despite an unemployment rate of 4.2 percent,” said Tallian. “This is a strong argument for increasing minimum wage. It is unacceptable that we have so many working Hoosiers whose incomes are low enough to qualify for Medicaid.”

Tallian intends to offer legislation in 2016 to raise Indiana’s minimum wage.

Sen. Tallian represents Senate District 4 which encompasses portions of northern Porter County and Michigan, Coolspring and New Durham townships in LaPorte County. For more information on Sen. Tallian, her legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit


A photo of Sen. Karen Tallian can be downloaded at:

*Note: An updated copy of the Legislative Services Agency’s analysis of recent tax cuts is available here:
The original analysis, prepared for the Senate Democratic Caucus by LSA in 2014, is available here:

Senate Page Program now taking applications now open

Did you know that Indiana law allows Hoosier students to serve as a Senate Page one day per legislative session and receive an excused absence from school? Each year, hundreds of students from around the state come to the statehouse for a first-hand look at how legislation is created at the Indiana General Assembly.


Students in grade 6 through high school seniors may apply to serve as Senate pages while the General Assembly is in session. Students will serve in the State Senate for one day assisting legislative aides and interns with legislative tasks and attending session in the Senate chamber.

In 2016, the General Assembly will meet January 5th through March 14th. Pages serve only on session days, which are generally Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of each week. There are a limited number of page positions available, and interested students are encouraged to contact their State Senator early.

Click here for a complete run-down of the program>>

To become a page, parents and guardians must submit their request here. All Requests must include the parent/legal guardian’s contact information, emergency contact information, the student’s name, age and grade level, and school

LANANE: Hoosiers step up, stand together and offer a helping hand

INDIANAPOLIS-Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) released the following statement in response to the governor reaffirming his stance on blocking the resettlement of refugees in Indiana.

“The governor’s continued rejection of this family in need reinforces his tendency to place our reputation as a welcoming state at risk.

“This is about helping children and families with nothing left and nowhere to turn. We know in times of great peril, Hoosiers step up, stand together and offer a helping hand.

“Hoosiers prescribe to the belief that when people are hungry, we should give them food. When they are thirsty, we give them drink. And when they are a stranger, we welcome them.

“We see that mindset in action every day, in every corner of the state and I hope Governor Pence is mindful of this.

“When faced with the opportunity to show the world what Hoosiers stand for, I hope the governor ultimately chooses to base his decisions on facts over fear.”


Sen. Lanane represents Indiana Senate District 25 which includes portions of Madison and Delaware counties, including the City of Muncie and the southeastern portion of the City of Anderson. For more information on Sen. Lanane, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit .

PETITION: Tell Gov. Pence to protect our schools from falling ISTEP scores

Education experts are projecting as many as 50 percent of Indiana schools will be rated either “D” or “F” as a result of spurious ISTEP scores.

Tell Governor Pence and Statehouse Republicans our children, teachers and schools are more than test scores. Sign on and tell them to pass Senate Democrats’ simple plan to hold schools harmless from low ISTEP scores and reduce the influence of testing in determining how schools and teachers are evaluated.

STOOPS: Our students, teachers, and communities are more than just test scores

INDIANAPOLIS – In the wake of the release of preliminary ISTEP scores, State Senator Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) released the following statement once again offering his proposal to hold educators harmless from the legislative changes made to this year’s school accountability assessments.

“The release of these preliminary ISTEP scores for Indiana’s K-12 schools further highlights the need to hold our students, teachers and communities harmless from this botched system of testing.

“A first look at the results from ISTEP tests last spring indicate that as many as 36 percent of our schools, more than 1 out of every 3, will be classified as D or F schools.

“This is the first assessment of the new academic standards precipitously imposed upon our students, teachers and schools by Statehouse Republicans, and they’re not working.

“Because of the shell-game style change in standards, as well as serious technical issues with ISTEP itself, the Superintendent of Public Instruction has long advocated for a hold-harmless solution to this problem.

“I offered a comprehensive fix on Organization Day to do just that; unfortunately Statehouse leadership again showed a complete lack of regard for the situation we have imposed on schools and the students themselves.

“Because of the lack of political will on the part of the Legislature to act quickly, teachers pay has been jeopardized and good schools will be labeled as failures.

“Our students, our teachers and our communities are more than just test scores.”

“The Senate Democratic Caucus has set out a clear and comprehensive plan of action to address this legislature-imposed debacle.

“If we want to protect the reputation of our schools, teachers and communities, our first action in January must be to hold schools and educators harmless for this flawed ISTEP process.

“School superintendents, teachers, parents, and students are counting on us to have their backs. The question is: does the Republican leadership have their backs, or will they continue to stand silent on remedying this situation?

Sen. Stoops represents Indiana Senate District 40, which includes portions of Monroe County, including the City of Bloomington. For more information on Sen. Stoops, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit
A copy of Sen. Stoops’ proposal to address the impact of A-F grades on teacher performance grants is available for download at: 

A copy of Sen. Stoops’ letter to President Pro-Tempore David Long is available at:


A closer look: ISTEP scores, a history and what it means for your school

Indiana students, teachers and parents are bracing for what education officials are projecting to be a precipitous drop in 2015 ISTEP+ exam scores. The Indiana Department of Education is estimating as many as 40 percent of Indiana schools will be rated either ‘D’ or ‘F’ as a result. About 10 percent of schools were rated “D” or “F” in 2014. The drop in scores and likely corresponding drop in schools’ A-F grades are the ripple effect of recent education reforms enacted by the Republican-led Indiana Legislature. Continue reading

What you need to know about home heating assistance

With the arrival of winter weather, families facing economic struggle have options to keep their heat going. The Indiana Home Energy Assistance Program (EAP) aims to provide financial assistance to low-income households during the winter heating months.

Implemented by each county’s Community Action Agency, the state’s EAP program is available to those meeting certain income requirements. A home visit by a representative of the Community Action Agency must also be completed to be considered for the program.

Who is eligible?

Households may qualify for heating assistance if they meet requirements based on income, utility account activity, proof of residence and have a valid social security number.

Income| To qualify, households may not earn more than 150 percent of the federal poverty level, or $34,575 for a household of four. Household members will also need to provide proof of earned and unearned income for 12 months.

Utility Account Information| A household must have an active account with the utility company, opened in the address where assistance is required. The account can be listed in the name of any household member over the age of 18, a legal power of attorney or a landlord. The most recent utility bill from the primary heating and electric sources must also be presented to apply. 

Proof of Residence| A current lease or signed landlord affidavit must be provided.

Social Security Number| Each person residing in the home over the age of one year must have proof of a valid social security number, given by the Social Security Administration.

How do I apply?

A household member must visit their county’s Community Action Agency (locations listed here). From there a representative of the agency will complete the intake process. A site visit will also be completed to assess whether a household meets the requirements.

What are the benefits?

Households receive $50 toward the primary heating source, in addition to assistance with deposits, reconnect fees, or disconnections not covered by the federal program.

When does heating assistance become available?

Winter assistance began November 2nd and will run through March 16, 2016.

Click here for more information on the State EAP>>

A closer look: 5 eye-opening stats about preschool and the Hoosier state

$17 million – According to the Indiana Department of Education, during the 2013-2014 school year, Indiana spent $17 million on students who were held back in kindergarten. In 2011, about 4 percent of kindergarteners were held back. By 2014, that number rose to 5 percent or 3,742 students according to the 2015 annual report from the the Early Learning Advisory Committee.

43rd – Indiana’s national rank in number of three and 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool. According to Education Week Research Center’s 2015 Early Education Index, about 39.5 percent of preschool-aged Hoosier children are attending programs, a level significantly below the national average of 47.3 percent.

$156,490 moreThe estimated additional income participants of the HighScope Perry Preschool Program earned over their lifetime than they would have earned otherwise.

57 percent – The percentage of applicants not accepted into Indiana’s pilot preschool program. In 2014, the Indiana General Assembly passed a program to provide up to 2,500 Hoosier 4-year-olds in five counties a shot at a preschool education. Demand for the program has far outstripped funding and Governor Pence and Statehouse Republicans have been reluctant to, meet that demand, expand the program to the 13 Indiana counties that could support high quality early childhood education today, let alone the rest of the state. Governor Pence doubled down on his resistance to expanding early learning opportunities to more Hoosier children when, in October 2014, he rejected $80 million in federal funding support for preschool.

$31 billion – The amount, after 25 years, by which the benefits generated by quality early childhood education would outweigh program costs. One study found participants of high quality early childhood education were: more likely to graduate high school; more likely to be employed; more likely to earn higher incomes; more likely to own a home; less likely to have any arrests; and less likely to have spent time incarcerated. The aforementioned generated a return of about $13 dollars in public benefit for every public dollar invested in quality early childhood education. Public benefits like less money spent on incarceration, special education, public assistance and increased tax contributions due to higher incomes.

P.O.W.E.R. Scholarship now seeking applicants

Each year, the state’s Political Organization for Women’s Education and Representation(POWER) offers scholarships to non-traditional women students, whose education was delayed or interrupted, with a vision to succeed despite any adversities life has presented. Applicants must also be in pursuit of an education in Indiana with an interest in giving back to their communities. This scholarship is not intended for recent high school graduates or women who are eligible for or have already received other significant financial aid.

Do you know someone who would like to apply? Check out eligibility requirements and the online application here>>

The money provided by the POWER scholarship may only be used to pay for tuition and fees at an educational institution. The scholarship check will be made directly to the institution with instructions to apply the funds to the student’s current account to pay for school tuition, books and fees. If awarded, scholarship funds will be available as of January 2016 and may be paid toward tuition, books and fees from that time until the full scholarship funds are used or the fall of 2019, whichever is first.

Eighteen scholarships will be awarded, with two per Congressional district, at $750 each. One scholarship will be awarded to a non-traditional woman who is enrolled in courses at a higher education institution in the state of Indiana. The second scholarship will be awarded to a non-traditional woman who is majoring full-time in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics program (STEM) at a higher education institution in the state of Indiana.

LGBT protections, ISTEP concerns highlight Org. Day

Organization Day, the first official day of the Indiana General Assembly’s 2016 legislative session, was held on November 17. Traditionally held in mid-November, Organization Day provides an opportunity for new rules to be adopted and for legislators to make arrangements for the upcoming legislative session. Continue reading