So what do various elected officials and interest groups think about the 2021 Legislative session?
Governor Eric Holcomb
- “This has been a historic legislative session and I’m grateful for all the support my Next Level Agenda achieved. Indiana will be in an even stronger position with this new budget which prioritizes investing in Hoosiers. The Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative will lead the nation in encouraging community collaboration to improve quality of place and advance industry sector development. The raises for educators, increased education funding, expanded broadband access and workforce development grants are all game changers. Indiana will remain on a roll thanks to the teamwork of all those involved throughout this legislative session.”
Ryan Mishler, Chairman, Senate Appropriations Committee
- Indiana’s next two-year state budget is truly historic, as it increases K-12 funding by $1.9 billion. The budget we passed today continues the General Assembly’s strong support of Hoosier students and schools with half of the General Fund appropriated for education. To further support our public schools and teachers, following recommendations from the Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission report, the budget includes the full $600 million down payment needed to improve teacher pay across the state. I am grateful for the continued collaboration between the Senate, the House of Representatives and the governor throughout this legislative session, and I believe this budget will ensure the future success of Indiana and greatly benefit students, teachers and families alike.”
State Representative Terri Austin (D-Anderson)
- It’s been far too long since fiscal leaders have reached a budget agreement that joins together both sides of the aisle. Thanks to their efforts, the funds from the American Rescue Plan and the resilience of Hoosier families, we have crafted one of the biggest investments our state has ever seen. That’s why I joined my colleagues and voted for House Bill 1001, our state’s biennial budget that passed with a vote of 96-2. “I am relieved that help is on the way for the students and hardworking teachers of our community who innovated solutions to new and unprecedented challenges. I am grateful for the million dollar investment in our state’s food banks that met an overwhelming demand to assist individuals in need. I am excited to see an investment in our law enforcement officers and to help our communities provide body cameras, enhanced training, and more equipment that will assist them to meet the demands of our changing society. “However, there is still a lot of room for improvement. The workers in our restaurants and hospitality industries need more help. We need stronger assurances to our teachers that they will get the raises they deserve and we need to make sure unemployment benefits get to everyone who needs them. The truth is, a lot of Hoosiers are still waiting to get their unemployment benefits, on top of struggling to find employment. This is a strong budget and it’s one that can stand as a foundation for a new, forward-thinking path for our state. I’m proud of the grant program we established to help small businesses, restaurants and the hospitality industry recover from the pandemic. I hope that those interested in participating in this program will reach out to my office so that we can connect them to these valuable resources. I’m also relieved that we finally made substantial investments in public health, especially due to our state’s abysmal rankings in that area. This is how we make government work for all Hoosiers. We should remember that when we return to our next session and maintain this commitment to finding real solutions.”
State Representative Blake Johnson (D-Indianapolis)
- “Marion County voters have consistently voiced their support for expanded public transit services, and with good reason. For thousands of residents, IndyGo is the key that unlocks access to jobs, educational opportunities, healthcare, healthy food, and other community assets that make this city great. I also believe that there are many who in good faith believe that we have an obligation to ensure that those transit services are being delivered to the public in a way that is efficient, effective, and provides a true return on investment for taxpayers. “I’m grateful that members of the House of Representatives – regardless of party – were able to come together for deliberative and meaningful dialogue around IndyGo and the importance of transit in Central Indiana, without a result that would grind long-promised progress to a halt. “I want to thank those who voiced their opinions over the last few months, and I look forward to continued conversations over the coming year.”
Anne Valentine, Vice President for Government Relations at United Way of Central Indiana.
- Early Education Works – a coalition of advocates for Indiana’s early care and education sector – applauds the Indiana General Assembly for their continued investments in the state’s On My Way Pre-K program. We believe that high-quality pre-k is one of the soundest and strongest investments that Indiana can make in today’s and tomorrow’s workforce, and we are grateful that the state will sustain funding for On My Way Pre-K in the next biennium. Our community of advocates looks forward to partnering with the Family and Social Services Administration on the ongoing implementation of the On My Way Pre-K program as well as efforts to maximize federal funding and strengthen the capacity and quality of Indiana’s early care and education sector.
Bryan Hannon, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
- The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is disappointed to see the Indiana legislature adjourning without raising Indiana’s cigarette tax as health and business leaders have long urged. Lawmakers had an opportunity to prioritize the health of Hoosiers by raising the state’s low cigarette tax rate by $2.00 per pack this session, which would have helped more than 100,000 Hoosiers quit smoking or never start.. More than 30% of cancer deaths in Indiana are attributed to smoking. Lawmakers did pass an e-cigarette tax this session, but the failure to act simultaneously on the state’s cigarette tax and the tax on all other tobacco products means many Hoosiers won’t get the nudge they need to become tobacco-free.
Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director, Hoosier Environmental Council.
- “Few legislative sessions have been as challenging to Indiana’s environment as this one. Big special interests and deeply ideological lawmakers had deep imprints on this session. But the Hoosier Environmental Council and our allies did achieve important victories for Indiana’s environment – victories that we feel grateful to announce on this Earth Day. Our successes rest on unwavering grassroots organizing, continuous engagement with legislative allies on both sides of the aisle, and public engagement through an array of means. Achieving the public good in Indiana requires resilience and vigor on the part of public interest groups like ours, everyday citizens, environmental-minded businesses, faith groups, and community groups. Our efforts are not yet done for the session: We are calling on Governor Holcomb to veto both SEA 389 and HEA 1191 — to make good on the Governor’s commitment to take our state to the next level.”
Kyle Hupfer, State GOP Chairman
- “This legislative session won’t soon be forgotten and I applaud Governor Holcomb and legislative leaders for accomplishing a great deal during an uncertain time. This session certainly looked different than others, but the results were something Hoosiers have grown accustomed to under Republican leadership. Conservative fiscal management led to record new investments in education, communities, infrastructure, law enforcement and Hoosier communities. All done without raising taxes and without making the drastic cuts other states have had to make.”
Lauren Ganapini, executive director for the Indiana Democratic Party
- “Governor Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Republican Party won’t ever admit this, but if it weren’t for President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan and the hard work by the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC), the 2021 legislative session would’ve been nothing but a list of intense partisan policies that would’ve damaged the future of Indiana in the process. The American Rescue Plan is why the state will put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, and the IBLC’s persistent advocacy and responsible approach is why criminal justice reform, Indiana House Bill 1006, was able to reach the governor’s desk. When it’s time to get to work on behalf of our families, Hoosiers are looking for partnership, not partisanship, in their government – and Democrats are ready to answer that call every time.