by John Zody

Hoosiers, Indiana finds itself at a Crossroads. We are a divided state, and we must decide who we want to be. If we don’t, we run the risk of becoming two Indianas.

For one Indiana, Hoosiers are educated, prosperous, and have the success they need to build a life in the 21st century. Then, there’s the other Indiana – where families struggle to make ends meet, a quality education is hard to come by, and the cards are simply stacked against them.

Hoosiers want to see commonsense solutions and a better quality of life, but for far too long Indiana hasn’t gotten results.

At the Statehouse, we are seeing Governor Pence and the legislative supermajorities putting their ideology ahead of the best interests of Hoosiers, and now we’re falling behind the rest of the nation.

For Indiana’s economy, we saw a .4% GDP in 2014, which ranked last in the Midwest and behind Kentucky. Also, our workers have seen a decline in their weekly wages – falling from 15.6 percent in 2008 to 17.2 percent in 2014. Then, with the repeal of the common construction wage law, this expanding wage gap will cause our middle class will continue to shrink.

With our education system, urban and rural schools continue to see their opportunities cut from them. Instead, this opportunity is given to voucher programs and charter schools – where some charters have had to close their doors, leaving Hoosier taxpayers to pay for their unpaid debts.

And because Governor Pence and the Statehouse GOP have been unwilling to protect and include every single Hoosier, our “welcoming” reputation has been put into jeopardy and Indiana suffered a $250 million panic last spring.

Simply put, Hoosiers across the state are fed up and know we can do better, and Hoosier Democrats agree. It’s time to return to our core principles.

Democrats want to fix the problems of today for the state’s middle class because we understand how tough it’s been working to just make ends meet.

We want to build a strong, long-term economy and invest in businesses who are willing to pay their workers higher wages, thereby eliminating the wage gap. That way, Hoosier families will no longer make 86 cents to every one American dollar and Hoosier women can stop making

We must bring equal pay for women and minorities in Indiana – because wage inequality is not a social issue – it’s an economic one!

For our education system – we should never cut opportunities from struggling schools. We must invest in their programs, provide them great resources, and make sure they retain great teachers simply want to help students succeed in the classroom.

Democrats want to work across the aisle to bring forward commonsense solutions to Indiana, including a statewide early childhood education system that gives every Hoosier child a great start to their education.

And finally, Democrats want to welcome everyone and help bring all Hoosiers together for the future. This includes updating the state’s nondiscrimination laws to include everyone – a move that will renew our “Hoosier Hospitality” reputation to the nation.

We’re at risk of becoming two Indianas, but Hoosier Democrats will fight to grow and unite our state into a new version of who we’ve always been – a state where everyone is family.

 John Zody is the Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party.