Education, minimum wage are targets for area legislators

Contributed By:The 411 News

Melton, Mrvan and Randolph bills seek passage in 2018 legislative session

Sen. Lonnie Randolph has proposed Senate Bill 118 to support the East Chicago school district.

Less than three days prior to the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, Carrie Gosch Elementary School in East Chicago was forced to relocate to the nearby former West Side Junior High School building due to the discovery of lead and arsenic poisoning in the soil surrounding school grounds. Following the move, the School City of East Chicago was granted a loan amount of $3 million in order to cover the costs of outfitting the new building for use, a loan amount that the SCEC will be unable to repay. Senate Bill (SB) 118 would provide the SCEC funding of an adequate amount to cover the balance of the loan.

“This loan was simply a bandage for the School City of East Chicago. When the time comes, the money will be due, and they will not be able to pay for this problem that they did not create,” Sen. Randolph said. "If the school corporation has to pay back this loan that will take funding away from key operations and resources that in the end will hurt our students' overall education."

Since the discovery of lead and arsenic poisoning in the soil, which measures upwards of 200 times the amount determined to be harmful to children by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Carrie Gosch Elementary School’s enrollment has dropped by nearly 30 percent, leading to the loss of additional per pupil state funding, furthering their inability to repay the loan debt.

Sen. Eddie Melton has proposed SB 29 to expand Indiana’s Prekindergarten pilot program eligibility

Currently, children whose parents or guardians are not working, in job training, or in an education program are not qualified to be enrolled in one of these beneficial prekindergarten pilot programs. Senate Bill (SB) 29 proposes to eliminate that requirement, which would allow children living with retired relatives or parents who try but can’t find work access to education. Hoosier children should receive a high quality education regardless of their guardians’ economic status.

“Opening the doors to children whose parents or guardians are not currently employed or in school will help broaden the number of young students who can access this important pilot program and its beneficial impacts,” Sen. Melton said. “Prekindergarten education is an important step to child development and long-term academic success.”

Sen. Frank Mrvan’s SB 121 proposes a statewide increase in the minimum wage.

With the turning of the New Year, workers in Midwestern states, such as Michigan and Ohio, are seeing minimum wage increases due to their legislatures taking action on behalf of workers. Sen. Mrvan wants to see Indiana follow in their footsteps to ensure citizens are fairly compensated for their hard work.

“This is no longer an issue of teenagers working part-time jobs,” Sen. Mrvan said. “Despite statewide manufacturing losses Hoosiers are still working hard, often in minimum wage jobs. To make sure they can provide for their families, legislators should ensure that their wages reflect these work efforts.”

A minimum wage increase would see minimum wage increase from $7.25 an hour to $10 an hour after June 30, 2019. Following two more years of incremental increases, the state minimum wage would be $15 an hour by June 30, 2021, and would subsequently increase each following year in accordance with inflation.

Story Posted:01/11/2018

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