Thursday, June 29, 2006

Jezebella's "Top 6 in '06" (Hoosier Edition)

This is an update to my earlier post detailing my suggested list of priorities for the national scene. Here is my Hoosier Edition – suggested priorities for state government:

1. Preventative Health Care for the Uninsured Mitch Daniels has pushed heavily to improve the health of Hoosiers through healthy dieting, exercise and better lifestyle choices. But he missed the boat on one issue: Preventative health care and the uninsured. This is straight from President Bush and the U.S. Government:

“Active prevention is critical to achieving a better and longer life and should play a central role in controlling the costs of health care.” - George Bush, 2006 State of the Union

“Even after controlling for other factors, individuals who lacked insurance for longer periods had lower rates of preventive care use” - Agency for Health Research and Quality

797,000 Hoosiers have been without any health insurance for over a year. 604,000 have been uninsured at some point in the last two years. Which means that these Hoosiers are not receiving proper preventative care. I admit that it is fiscally unfeasible for the state to provide comprehensive health care to 1.4 million people. But offering preventative health care for the uninsured would improve the health of Hoosiers while not exploding the state’s budget.

Indiana is a state that touts its family values and strong morals. To leave a significant portion of the population without access to basic health care is not only costly, but morally corrupt.

2. Sexual Rights. Yes, I said it. Homosexuals have a right to be together, to be married, and to raise a family. Single women have a right to birth control, whether or not a doctor or pharmacist agrees with her sexual behavior. Teenagers have a right to accurate information about contraception and STD prevention. Etcetera.

All that has been done so far by liberals on this issue is to block the conservative proposals that seek to take away these rights. In the meantime, the entire dialogue takes place on conservative’s home field. Liberals need to stop blocking and start fighting for actual rights. Let the conservatives and bigots block our proposals and try to prove to us that we are wrong.

Propose a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between two or more humans of any gender. Let them block it.

Propose a bill that requires a pharmacist seeking a license to pledge that they will not withhold medication of any kind from a patient with a valid prescription. Let them block it.

Propose a law like that in Illinois which requires insurance companies to cover oral contraception. Let them block it.

Propose legislation to require extensive, comprehensive sex ed in public high school curriculum. Add an amendment that schools must make condoms available for free in the nurse’s office. Add another amendment that health class must teach the Kinsey scale (1-7, with 1 being completely straight and 7 being fabulously gay). Let them block it.

You get the picture.

3. Developing Indiana’s Ethanol Industry. Indiana can become an energy leader—the Saudi Arabia of alternative fuels. The state should support a budding industry so that when the country shifts toward ethanol, we are the most prepared to meet the need. Old: There’s more than corn in Indiana. New: There’s lots of corn in Indiana, and it can fuel your new Honda!

4. Education Funding: Build Knowledge, not Swimming Pools. With soaring dropout rates and ever-dwindling public funding, Indiana schools have been authorized to supplement their income with property tax levies. But most of these levies authorize schools to use the money for capital projects, school playgrounds, and bus replacement, among others. Of the property taxes collected by schools in 2004, only half of it went to education, while the other half went to physical projects and debt payments.

But the General Assembly is partly to blame—they authorize the collection of taxes, they set the maximum rates, and they decide what the money can be used for. So to place more focus on teaching rather than building, they could raise the maximum rate for the general levy (for education expenses) and lower the maximum rate for capital projects. Or they could impose a restriction that only 25% of the property taxes collected can be for non-education-related projects.

The General Assembly holds the keys to improving Indiana’s education system. They just need to take them out of their pockets and use them!

5. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. What the Governor is doing works. He directly appeals to companies and “sells” Indiana to them as the best spot to locate. If he has the best sales pitch, the company locates here and the state gets jobs. Now, imagine if we had more salespeople. More salespeople=more sales=more jobs.

Maybe not every lawmaker can fly to Japan and court Honda, but every lawmaker can court somebody! It could be a side requirement of the job of Senator or Representative, much like how it is a side requirement of their legislative assistant to campaign on Saturdays without pay.

6. Cooperation and Compromise. I’ve written on this one before. When the parties work together and each bring their constituents’ interests to the table, everyone comes out ahead, particularly 99.9% of Hoosiers who care more about the policies that affect them than they care about Pat Bauer keeping his job.


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