INDIANAPOLIS — Tuesday was organization day at the Indiana Statehouse. New lawmakers in both the house and senate discussed key issues they plan on passing legislation to tackle.
However, no specific legislation has been filed and no details were shared as to how they plan on tackling key issues.
Both Democrats and Republicans brought up workforce development, healthcare and education as key issues that need some changes.
"Indiana has always been a leader in parental choice and empowerment and we are going to build on that success,” House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said. “Every Hoosier parent should have an opportunity to send their child a school of their choice."
While speaker Huston has educational priorities for education, teachers rallied at the statehouse to lay out what they’d like to see lawmakers due to make the public school system better.
The American Federation of Teachers want to see the legislature address the teacher shortage, fund public schools and take politics out of the classroom.
"Why can't we be given the tools the time the resource the training and a living wage to make all other professions possible," Randy Harrison with AFT said.
Jennifer McCormick, the former superintendent of public instruction, says it starts with paying teachers what they are worth.
"We can pat ourselves on the back and say we've had historical funding but we've been funding so incredibly low over the years that, that historical funding is going to have to continue for over a decade," McCormick said.
Speaker Huston also said he'd like to see more investments in health care, more funding to address workforce development, and he’d like to see lower healthcare costs as well as a reduction in income taxes to help Hoosiers with inflation.
"Record inflation continues to impact the cost of everything from what we eat to the heat in our home,” Huston said. “It's all due to the ballooning size of the federal government but that's not Indiana. “
The senate wasn't as clear on what their official priorities will be, but Democratic leadership did say they'd like to see the legislature do something with the over $6 billion surplus.
"The problems that we have here at the state is we have a whole bunch of money and we got to figure out where we spend those dollars,” Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said. “For working-class Hoosiers it's about how do I spend those dollars because I don't have any money."
As for Republican leadership on the senate side President Pro-Tem of the Senate Rodrick Bray had a similar list of issues, he said they would like to tackle. However, he didn’t give any specifics as to the legislation they will be proposing.
However, he did say hot-button cultural issues likely won’t be a priority superficially surrounding abortion.
"We have a supreme court that is taking a look at that issue, and it wouldn't be wise of us at all to take a crack at any changes right now until we know what that ruling is going to be,” Bray said.
Republican senate leaders say they plan to release their list of priorities sometime next month. The 2023 legislative session will be longer than last year, because lawmakers will need to approve a new budget.
Lawmakers will reconvene for their regular session on January 9.
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