Boycotting Indiana Democrats Remain Hopeful

March 21, 2011

Tuesday will mark a month since Indiana House Democrats arrived in Urbana as part of a legislative boycott.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma claimed last week that negotiations with the more than 30 House members were over, but Democrats like Charlie Brown of Gary remain optimistic that things are improving daily between the two sides.

He and a number of colleagues were back in their home districts for a while on Friday, gauging the public's thoughts on the Democrats' walkout. Brown said the public has not been fully informed about the labor and education bills for which they're seeking amendments, particularly a controversial school voucher measure. He said allowing any student to attend private school with public tax dollars can hurt a public school's ability to maintain its core curriculum.

"If you're going to have a diminishing enrollment in those buildings, you still have all of those fixed costs to deal with," he said. "So they're going to be losing the per pupil amount that would be be distributed, and yet still having the same kind of fixed cost that they had in the past."

Democrat Dale Grubb of Covington also said more people in his district were supportive once explaining the bills that prompted the boycott.

"Many people had sent messages of distaste about what's transpiring," Grubb said. "But once they learned a particular issue or two, and the consquences of having passed those, changed their mind and understand that there were some amendments necessary and needed for some of these bills."

He contends the two sides are close to agreements, calling the next stage of negotiations with Republican leaders 'the last 50 yards of a 1-mile run.'

Grubb said there is too much invested to turn back at this point.

Story source: WILL