Welcome to tonight's live Times columnist chat. Our columnists, Doug Ross, Marc Chase and Rich James will be discussing the issues and accomplishments in this year's Indiana General Assembly session.
We will begin the conversation at 6 p.m., but you can feel free to submit your question or comment in advance.
Marc, Rich and I are eager to chat with you tonight.
Just found out I can use my phone to post. May the autocorrect force be with you -- and me, too!
Yes, thank you. I cleared the last hurdle in remembering my password.
It's 5:59 p.m. Drum roll?
So did the Indiana General Assembly do anything interesting besides punt the gay marriage issue down the road?
Technology is grand when it works.
It was a small win, but a win nonetheless, when the Legislature approved the adoption tax credit. Further measures need to go further than a $1,000 credit for adoptive families making this important decision. But it's a step in the right direction.
It's time pro-lifers in the General Assembly put their money where their mouth is and adopt more measures that make it easier for loving and financially stable families to adopt children.
I agree with Marc on the adoption issue, and yes, it should be made much less costly. But the session as a whole was terribly weak.
Am I the only one on The Times "opinion" trio who thinks drug testing for TANF is a good idea?
The adoption bill wasn't as much as Gov. Pence asked for, but that's a recurring theme.
I hope you are the only one who thinks drug testing is a good idea.
On the surface, drug testing for TANF might make sense, but when you look at the cost, there is no savings. It ends up being a giveaway to whoever gets the drug testing contract.
Drug testing for TANF is a huge waste of money and an insult to the destitute.
You're right Doug. The federal adoption credit is about $13,000 if you make $197,000 a year or less.
If there is drug testing, the state should pay for the treatment.
For our panelists, short sessions are often notoriously short on accomplishments. How does this one stack up with other short sessions?
TANF is for the poorest of the poor. Their drug abuse rate is lower than that of the general population.
I don't agree, Doug. If you're going to receive government support, there needs to be some accountability. Drug use is a huge drag on the lower socioeconomic folks. Although, I have to agree with Rich that some type of treatment should be attached.
So why single out them? Why not all recipients of state/federal funds?
Having covered and watched legislative sessions for 35 years, I would say this is one of the weakest.
And since when it is a sound conservative principle to spend more on administering a program that you save by doing so?
That was an excellent story, and it showed how the General Assembly functions.
Unfortunately for the people of Indiana, the GOP controlled legislature wasted too much time talking about a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
There were a lot of vehicle bills introduced this session, which left room for a lot of wheeling and dealing.
I don't take Rich's somber attitude on this session. It was short, and it wasn't stellar by any means. But reducing the corporate income tax rate from 6.5 percent next year to 4.9 percent by 2021 was a step in the right direction for promoting better a better business environment. It certainly makes more sense than the outright elimination of the business personal property tax, which would have cost local government dearly and no doubt led to more gouging of wage earners to make up the difference.
And you're right, Rich. The social issues were really divisive. If the Republicans had left well enough alone, they wouldn't be stirring up the fires under their opposition.
Picking the gay marriage amendment as a key session platform was a big mistake.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. We're not taking enough money in, so let's cut taxes. A smarter approach would have been to study outcomes in other states first instead of following dogma blindly.
There seemed to be more tension between Republicans in the Legislature and Gov. Pence than there had been in the past when Mitch Daniels was governor. How do you view the governor's role?
Right, Doug. Indiana needs to study its whole taxing portfolio and then set a course of action. Doing it piecemeal is just politics.
Have you seen the plaque of Bryce Drew and "The Shot?" You push a button and hear when he made the famous shot while in the NCAA Tournament. The Statehouse needs something like that for Mitch Daniels urging a focus on fiscal conservatism rather than social issues.
In answer to Robert's question, I don't think Gov. Pence was as active as he could be. I do give him credit for testifying on behalf of early childhood education, though. It would have gone nowhere without his testimony.