ANDERSON — As part of their statewide tour, Democrats stopped by Anderson on Saturday to showcase the methods President Joe Biden’s administration is using to invest in Indiana’s economy.
Speakers from the local Democratic Party headquarters downtown highlighted how federal dollars are used for infrastructure improvements, education and job creation.
Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said in the 2021 state budget year there was a lot of excitement about the funding being provided for education.
“The Republicans haven’t told you about these funds from President Biden,” Lanane said of the federal COVID-19 relief package.
He also noted that the infrastructure legislation passed by Congress did not receive the vote of a single Republican representing Indiana.
“Compare our program for creating good-paying jobs and making Indiana an attractive place for businesses to locate,” Lanane said.
“Republicans are focused on ‘culture wars’ and legislation allowing people to carry a gun without a license, which endangers law enforcement and prevents transgender women from participating in sports,” he said. -he adds.
Lanane said Democrats want programs to help people earn a decent living.
Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, criticized the way the Indiana Economic Development Corporation decided to distribute federal funds through the READI grant program.
She said the region that included Madison, Hamilton and Marion counties received only 40% of the $50 million requested for local projects.
“Four regions received the maximum $50 million,” Austin said. “There’s still $900 million that hasn’t been allocated.
“We need to fully fund these projects,” she added. “You don’t change the rules after asking for projects.”
Austin was referring to a change in state guidelines for grants after the federal government distributed the criteria.
“Keep the promises you made,” she said.
Austin also said the state has $250 million to expand broadband Internet access through federal funding, and another $100 million will be made available.
“Teachers living in rural areas had to go to a public site to do their job,” she said. “Broadband is a tool of the 21st century.”
Matt Hall, who is seeking a Democratic Party nomination in the 5th congressional district, said if elected he would focus on mental and behavioral health.
Hall said post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition affecting countless numbers of people who have had traumatic experiences.
“We have to help them find financial stability,” he said. “The Jobs Act provides money to Indiana and the state ranks among the last in mental health.”
Hall spoke out in favor of raising the required minimum wage to $15, as inflation outpaces the cost of living.
He said providing access to broadband internet services in rural areas is crucial for the elderly and the farming community.
Hall said Rep. Victoria Sparta, R-5th District, campaigned in 2020 for broadband expansion and then voted against the US bailout legislation.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.