LaPorte County Alliance for Indianas Future
It has been a challenging year for members of Indianas General Assembly. And, in all honesty, we hope its not over yet.
Faced with unprecedented budget deficits, the states representatives and senators went home in late March without solving or at least mitigating the states fiscal crisis. We are thankful that Governor Frank OBannon announced that he is calling the General Assembly back on May 14 for a special session to find a way out of the current fiscal situation.
Its high time they do so. Our state is dead last in economic health. An April 17 article by Andrea Neal in the Indianapolis Star reported that Indiana lost more jobs than any other state in the last two years, and that Indianas per-capita personal income ranking fell from 17 in 1965 to 33, the largest drop of any state in the nation. We stand at 91% of the national average in this key income category.
The states economic and educational future depends upon decisive leadership, and there is no more time to waste. There are real stories out there that tell the impact of inaction. Employers are voting with their feet job losses and the inability to attract new business are at the heart of the states financial woes.
One thing is clear the quality of life for all Hoosiers is at stake. We need to do more, not less, to encourage Indianas economic and educational health. Its worked elsewhere one neighboring state restructured its tax system from one that is property-tax dependent a few years ago, and their effort resulted in the state leading the nation in new job growth.
To try and encourage the states leaders to find a way out of this dilemma, a statewide coalition called the Alliance for Indianas Future was formed. This coalition is a diverse group of leaders from labor, business, education, and government not all of whom always see eye-to-eye when it comes to budget and taxation issues. But in this case, the argument is the same its time the General Assembly and the Governor to address these problems.
At least two regional groups have also been formed; one is the Greater Lafayette Alliance for Indianas Future, and the other is the La Porte County Alliance for Indianas Future. We, the members of the second group, have been meeting at Purdue University North Central in Westville in an effort to persuade state legislators that it's time to work out their differences for the good of all citizens and taxpayers.
The La Porte County group includes the Michigan City and La Porte Chambers of Commerce, the United Way of La Porte County, County Commissioner Clay Turner, Michigan City Mayor Sheila Brillson, La Porte Mayor Kathy Chroback, the Michigan City Economic Development Corporation, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 531, International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers Local 395, the Unity Foundation of La Porte County, Healthy Communities of La Porte County, the La Porte County Association of Realtors, Ivy Tech State College, Purdue University North Central. This coalition passed a resolution supporting the five principles being advanced by the statewide coalition:
We think its time for more local groups to join in this effort. Its not a team that should or must disappear with the next fiscal cure from Indianapolis; local constituencies must find a way to address our regional and statewide concerns with one voice.
Its also time to realize were all in this together. We must understand were not always competing with each other for scarce resources were competing with other states and other nations for the economic and educational advantages we all say we value.
We urge and encourage the citizens of all the counties of Indiana to join us in organizing our voices for the common good. Some lawmakers have expressed doubt that the special session will be successful. At least one lawmaker, Sen. Bill Alexa (D-Valparaiso) has been quoted as saying, "If (party leaders) cant come to an agreement, a special session will look very much like the last couple of days of the last session." Alexa added that he had heard very little about the issue from his constituents, and receives only one or two e-mails a day telling him the legislators should re-convene and work out their differences.
We view this as a call to action. Organize, contact your legislators and tell them its time to roll up their sleeves and do what they have been elected to do address the revenue and spending issues that are crucial to the well being of all Hoosiers.
Michigan City Area Chamber of Commerce LaPorte Chamber of Commerce
LaPorte County Association of Realtors United Way of LaPorte County
Mayor Kathy Chroback - LaPorte Mayor Sheila Brillson - Michigan City
Purdue University North Central Michigan City Economic Development Corp.
Commissioner Clay Turner Healthy Communities of LaPorte County
Unity Foundation of LaPorte County Ivy Tech State College
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 531
International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers Local 395LaPorte County Alliance for Indianas Future
1401 South U. S. Highway 421
Westville, Indiana 46391-9542