[cross-posted at DLCC.org]
The Indiana House Democrats remain firm in their resolve to halt the advance of Republican Governor Mitch Daniels’ and Speaker Brian Bosma’s radical agenda that undermines jobs, wages, and education. The “Hoosier 39” (less the two representatives required to remain in the legislative chamber for procedural purposes) continue to caucus in Urbana, Illinois, where they meet daily to discuss legislative business.
Gov. Daniels left the state capitol to spend his weekend grabbing headlines in DC, where he spoke at the exclusive Gridiron Club Dinner and waxed nostalgic on his oversight of the massive national deficit growth under George W. Bush on Meet the Press.
Speaker Bosma penned a column published by the Northwest Indiana Times over the weekend. The piece was a bit one-sided, and Speaker Bosma sets forth several claims worthy of rebuttal. Each right-wing talking point and corresponding reality check are below. This is also a helpful crib sheet of the issues dividing the parties in the ongoing Hoosier standoff.
BOSMA: “Republican efforts [quorum breaks] have focused on issues where the minority was completely denied the opportunity to speak… For the future of our state's legislative institutions, it [this quorum break] cannot be tolerated.”
REALITY CHECK: Republicans used the legislative walkout tactic in 2001 and 2004 under the leadership of Bosma. The 2001 Republican walkout wasn’t even over issues; rather, it was a purely political fight over redistricting and protecting the Republican members’ own political careers. When used by Bosma and the Republican caucus, the constitutionally provided tactic was “tolerated” and GOP members were not fined (in contrast to the $250 per day Bosma and crew are fining Democrats now). The legislative process resumed and continued smoothly after both Republican quorum breaks.
BOSMA: “Their [Democrats’] propaganda states that we want to dismantle public schools, drive all workers to minimum wages ‘for life’ and completely dismantle public and private collective bargaining.”
REALITY CHECK: It’s not propaganda. Democrats left because Republican plans would institute private school vouchers that drain millions in taxpayer dollars from our public schools and redirect that money to private schools. By denying quorum, Democrats prevented Republicans from cutting an additional $600 million from Indiana schools -- bringing the cuts to schools to a total of $1.2 billion in just two years. Republicans are pushing bills that eviscerate workers’ rights in both the private and public sectors, all the way down to the local level. Governor Mitch Daniels even called teachers, firefighters, and police "privileged elite."
BOSMA: “Our House GOP ‘Strengthen Indiana Plan’, announced on September 15, 2010, … told the public what we intended to do if elected.”
REALITY CHECK: The GOP campaign plan talked about “school choice,” “options,” and even their idea to “provide children who attend failing schools grants to attend a school of choice.” But the Republicans failed to disclose that their plan would accomplish these things at the expense of public schools. Republicans didn’t mention that their plan would gut public schools to fulfill their agenda until the legislative session began, denying Hoosiers an opportunity to review their radical agenda until Democrats applied the brakes.
BOSMA: “The current out of state tantrum has now cost taxpayers in excess of $300,000.”
REALITY CHECK: No tax dollars are being expended in the Democrats’ stand for education and working families. Legislators are paid a daily stipend to help cover the costs of being in Indianapolis. Democratic legislators are refusing that daily stipend while away from the statehouse. The Clerk of the House is required to give the stipend as long as the House is in session. Therefore, legislators received a deposit last week for the week before, but are writing checks back to the state to reimburse the taxpayers. Per House rules, since legislators have not been in session for more than five days, no legislator automatically will be receiving the stipend.
BOSMA: “We will not concede to a list of demands from legislators who have fled their duties.”
REALITY CHECK: To sit in a chamber and simply vote “no” isn’t good enough. The Republicans’ extreme agenda deserves to be fought with equally drastic measures. The damaging policies Bosma and his fellow Republicans tried to ram through the legislature deserve not to be passed by a voice vote in a closed room, but rather exposed to the scrutiny of Hoosiers everywhere. The consequences of the GOP agenda are far-reaching and dire. Indiana’s working families deserve legislators who understand that being away from their homes and families is small sacrifice in the face of the Republican threat to Indianans’ livelihoods and children’s futures.