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Indiana Statehouse Democrats release joint agenda, using 'collective voice' to advocate

Phil GiaQuinta and Greg Taylor stand in front of many of their colleagues. GiaQuinta is a White man with brown hair, wearing glasses and a suit and tie. Taylor is a Black man, bald, wearing glasses and a suit and tie.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne), left, and Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis), right, stand in front of the House and Senate Democratic caucuses to unveil their joint agenda on Jan. 11, 2024.

Indiana Statehouse Democrats say it’s “too expensive to be a Hoosier.” And the House and Senate Democratic caucuses unveiled a joint agenda Thursday aimed at addressing the costs of child care, housing and health care.

House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) said the caucuses working together is about their collective voice being louder than individual voices.

Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) said Republicans’ plans to address child care access fall short. She said “significant, structural change is needed.”

“Currently, providers are only able to accommodate about 41 percent of the half million children who need child care — meaning that 600,000 parents are left with no options,” Yoder said.

Democrats want to dramatically expand funding for child care, including universal pre-K access. How to pay for it is less clear — Yoder suggested using the state surplus, which is limited and already reduced by a Medicaid funding shortfall.

READ MORE: Senate GOP agenda focused on reading proficiency, child care, health care access

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Democrats also want to dip into the surplus to pay for a $250 property tax credit for all homeowners.

“This is the simplest way to provide this relief without cutting into the budget of local governments and public schools,” said Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis).

The minority caucuses are also focused on issues Republicans aren’t exploring, particularly prescription drug prices. Rep. Rita Fleming (D-Jefferonsville) said a recent AARP study showed that 1 in 5 older adults resort to cost-cutting measures to afford medication.

“They either don’t fill their drugs or they change the doses, taking less than they need because they cannot afford it,” Fleming said.

Fleming’s proposal would cap insulin at $35, albuterol for asthma at $55 and epinephrine, or Epipens, at $25.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.