Indiana’s Pathetic Legislature

An analysis of the priorities of Indiana’s legislative super-majority yields two possible interpretations. Either the members of the demonstrably unrepresentative  GOP caucus hate their constituents (unless they’re well-to-do), or they are so devoid of common sense that they enthusiastically support measures that are the legislative equivalent of shooting oneself in the foot.

I do tend to think the problem is intellect rather than malice–a rabid devotion to ideology that precludes the evaluation of credible contrary evidence. But former state employees who depend upon their state pensions might be forgiven for thinking those in the current Statehouse super-majority hate them.

As the Capitol Chronicle recently reported, 

A bill mandating that Indiana’s public pension system divest from firms or funds that use certain non-financial investment criteria — a flashpoint in the state’s culture wars — could slash the system’s returns by nearly $7 billion over the next decade, according to a revised fiscal analysis.

Author Rep. Ethan Manning, R-Logansport, and supporters say the proposal would ensure that the Indiana Public Retirement System puts finances first. House Bill 1008 is part of a GOP effort to crack down on the environmental, social and governmental framework known as ESG investing.

But its restrictions and administrative requirements could mean a hefty price tag for the fund and its retirees.

As the article noted, even the conservative-leaning Indiana Chamber of Commerce strongly opposes the measure. That opposition undoubtedly reflects the long-time–but evidently now discarded–Republican opposition to unnecessary and/or intrusive meddling in decisions that should be left to the owners and managers of businesses.

But hey! Today’s GOP recognizes the terrible threat posed by allowing Hoosier companies to consider the environmental, social and governance positions of the enterprises in which they invest, or with which they do business. If former state workers must suffer in order to avoid participating in this descent into “wokeness,” well, so be it.

Lest the casual observer conclude that this misbegotten bill is an outlier, allow me to disabuse you.

Let’s look at just a couple of other areas where our intrepid lawmakers are hard at work making sure the state will not and cannot reach its purported goals. You can probably identify others.

One problem to which everyone gives lip servicee is that  Indiana lacks a sufficiently skilled workforce to make us competitive for many of the companies our economic development folks would like to attract.

So what did the God-Fearing misogynists at the Statehouse do? They passed a ban on abortion–sending a clear message about Indiana’s political culture to skilled workers (male and female) who might otherwise have considered living here. Multiple news outlets have confirmed  the increased difficulties in recruitment that followed passage of the ban.

Another major issue for Indiana is the worsening teacher shortage, a shortage that the General Assembly is assiduously addressing with multiple efforts to drive educators (who might produce that skilled workforce) out of the profession and/or the state.

It isn’t just the bills telling teachers and school librarians what books they can use and what history they can teach. At the same time our lawmakers are trying to micro-manage what happens in public school classrooms, they are intent upon enlarging a voucher program–aka “scholarship” bill–with virtually no oversight mechanisms. 

That program is patterned after one in Arizona, where even minimal oversight was evidently considered intrusive. As The Guardian recently reported, 

When the former governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, signed a law last year that lets any family receive public funds for private school or homeschooling, he said he “trusts parents to choose what works best” for their children.

Over 46,000 Arizona students now take part in the state’s education savings account, or ESA, program, which provides about $7,000 per child annually for a huge array of school expenses. But with households in greater charge of curricular choices, some purchases are raising eyebrows, among them items like kayaks and trampolines, cowboy roping lessons and tickets to entertainment venues like SeaWorld….

One parent in the group said she uses the Disney+ streaming service to “extend our learning” and asked if the state would approve the cost of a subscription. Others said they had received approvals for trampolines and horseback riding lessons.

It’s pretty obvious that what legislative culture warriors tout as a boon for “family empowerment ” is really part of a persistent effort to disempower and dismantle public education.

In Arizona, the seemingly endless variety of options available to homeschoolers makes it difficult for state officials to regulate them – and that may be the point. The goal, school choice proponents say, is to break free of school bureaucracy and put parents in control.

In Indiana, the message to teachers is clear: we trust even the most uneducated parents, but we sure don’t trust you. 

Gee, I wonder why we have a teacher shortage…?


  1. Indiana’s Republican legislators have always hated the ISTA and IFT. It continues to amaze me how far they will go to punish the “teachers’ unions.

  2. I wonder at what point Hoosiers will finally get a bellyful of these clowns and move on to sensible politicians who have the best interest of people in their hearts? When will enough be enough?

  3. II wonder if the bill that will decimate the public pension funds includes the pensions for state legislators. Surely, if the esteemed lawmakers are honest about their motives, they would put themselves in the same situation as the people who actually make the state’s “wheels” turn around, wouldn’t you think?

  4. “I do tend to think the problem is intellect rather than malice…”

    Sorry Sheila, being one of those retirees I believe it is primarily malice; those current senior public retirees (primarily senior Republicans) are being punished for being part and parcel to the working GOP party of the past. Their first strike was in 2021 with the end of the 13th Check for 45,000 public employees, teachers, judges, police officers, firefighters, Excise, Gaming & Conservation Officers, prosecutors and legislators. Or, could it possibly have been in 2017 when the Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS) outsourced our retirement funds for disbursement to State Street Retiree Services of State Street Bank. We were required to completely reregister with State Street Retiree Services IF WE WANTED TO CONTINUE RECEIVING OUR RETIREMENT BENEFITS.

    The lack of intellect is the fact that the current GOP is operated on the foundation of MAGA; with or without Trump. That “hefty price tag” is already in effect and INPRS claims it is fighting for us; but their board is primarily the younger generation of Republicans who know not what the party stood for when the retirement plan was put into effect, locally under Mayor Bill Hudnut’s administration…the last of the real Republicans here. In Indianapolis the “transition” from Hudnut to Goldsmith was like the “transition” from Obama to Trump…a nightmare of chaos and lies. That system has trickled down to “Indiana’s Pathetic Legislature” based on the escalated release of hatred, racism, sexism, bigotry, antisemitism, et al, and controlled by the pseudo-religious based control system of bodies and minds.

    Please do not consider my upholding of the GOP during the Hudnut 16 year era; I was an Independent voter till 2000 while living in Florida during the bogus recount of the presidential election which was controlled by George W’s little brother Jeb.

  5. I clicked on the article and then another link to find this nugget:

    “Those industries are firearms manufacturing and related services; oil, gas, lumber, mining, agriculture, and meat production-related businesses; and companies that contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Firms that boycott those industries could find themselves subject to a mandatory reverse-boycott from INPRS.”

    As I thought, Manning is a puppet for Koch and ALEC.

    It’s Manning’s turn to bring up a bill fighting the divestiture movements that hurt Koch’s business interests and those who are members of ALEC. While Charles Koch preaches about the destructiveness of unions, he has assembled a corporate and legislative union.

    Charles is anti-Chamber; thus, the Chamber of Commerce opposes this bill.

    The attack on public schools follows the script of the “economic shock doctrine,” which was the foundation of Friedman’s neoliberalism movement. The intent is to disrupt the public sphere and present a privatized solution. Both Democrat and Republican administrations have supported this movement – Clinton was the worst president for this. Obama was not much better…

  6. Todd, Why fund the tea party, when your minions are already ripe for the freedom caucus? I’m guessing Charlie is regretting he didn’t make that big leap forward.

  7. I find it fascinating that all the roiling about socialism, and lo and behold, they promote socialistic activity! In other words, pulling from the tax pool that every single person contributes to, and to be fair every single person does not ride the same horse metaphorically so to speak! But it really doesn’t matter what breed of horse a person rides, it’s supposed to be a metaphorical universal boarding stable regardless of breed.

    Is it fair that all of these horse owners metaphorically that is, contribute to this boarding stable but only a few select horse owners can board their animals at this particular stable? Selective socialism!

    The separation between church and state? Non-existent as far as I can see, because when the state allows religious intrusion into secular civil societies teachings, the educational system, must include all religions no matter shade, spot or stripe!

    Socialistic activity comes in many forms, most of it is absolutely necessary, everyone pays into social security, or Medicare, no matter what their religious beliefs are. Their money goes into the pot and is doled out to those when they retire or become injured or any other issue covered by these programs No matter their personal beliefs.

    The same with the public libraries, everyone pays into the specific tax pool, no matter their shade, spot or stripe, and the libraries try to promote equality that represents all of those who contribute. So, why should there be an authoritarian dogma attached to a social program? If someone wants to send their child to a public school, that public school should represent the entirety of society. If someone wants to send their child to a private school, they should not be refunded what they are paying in taxes to do so! That is not fair, it’s authoritarian, and it’s selectively socialized which is really an oxymoron. Selective socialism really is not a legal thing, but it seems to be practiced as settled law on a regular basis. There is however a very interesting article on selective socialism in the Washington Post article on that very thing from 7/23/2019…..

    The utter disrespect and hypocrisy that permeates those with a purposefully crippled viewpoint of social society, is maleficently ignorant! And, it’s approached with eyes wide open!

  8. another retired state employee here, and very much dependent on my meager pension, i’m
    disgusted as usual, with the arrogant, “we know best” GOP legislature. Too bad we can’t kick them out and will never be able to do so, thanks to their lamentable gerrymandering.

  9. max; did you know that in 2017, when we were required to reregister with State Street Services that there was either $37 or $39 BILLION in our PERF budget. I haven’t been able to find any figures for it since 2017.

  10. My sons are both employed by the business of handling data. The beauty and the best of that is it’s largely software based which is so much easier and therefore cheaper to adapt to environmental changes than hardware is.

    Republicans are leading the charge to avoid accepting the reality of change by denying it as a need. If dinosaurs could have thought I imagine that they would agree.

    Unfortunately hoosier political reality is that they will stay a rural farm small town state which is their right but it will become more and more obsolete and irrelevant to the rest of the world.

    As that becomes more and more obvious Republican politicians will just switch who they blame from liberals to grange members and thereby obscure all responsibility and accountability.

    That’s just what they do.

  11. To James Todd: When are we going to get rid of these clowns? These “clowns” are going the wrong direction and the rubes and/or moneygrubbers who are collecting seven grand per kid to equip their kids with an inferior education are hatching a new generation of rubes who will, if anything, want to up the ante rather than recognize that it was a bad idea ab initio and, of course, those of us who want professional educators to set the curricular designs and measure the educational outcomes are ill-equipped socialists since everyone knows that parents are the ones best situated to do both (it says here).

    I think both legislators and rubes in their heart of hearts know better but seven grand per urchin is a powerful bribe for their vote(s) whatever the educational outcome (or child endangerment result) of the children involved may be, one where such kids likely know a lot about Jesus but never heard of Darwin, a “program” which in a broader sense creates a burden the rest of us must bear down the road as such disadvantaged adults become voting adults.

    I for one do not endorse the idea that “parents” are the best equipped to determine curricular designs and educational outcomes for their children unless, of course, they are children of professional educators, but unfortunately, relatively few meet that description.

  12. I’ve seen the ads that claim charter school students receive $7,000 per year less in public funding than public school students. Wow. Let’s expect parents to choose public schools for their children instead of charter schools, and the discrepancy will cease to exist.

  13. Sheila, unfortunately every time you post about our pathetic legislature, I have to go distract myself with some happy music or mindless rom-com. It seems that the people, in their ignorance/stupidity, have elected the legislature that they deserve. Sadly, that is not the legislature that the rest of us deserve. I worry that any state that would elect Diego Morales over Destiny Wells is a long way from waking up to the damage the our legislature is doing.

    Two more thoughts –

    Education – all of these vouchers and alternative education venues have always had one purpose – to destroy public education.

    Pensions – of course they don’t care about the pension fund, even their own (they figure that they will all retire as lobbyists and get rich, or get paid off by the lobbyists that already are there).
    My pet peeve is that nobody remembers that Christine Todd Whitman became Governor of New Jersey by promising to balance the budget and cut taxes. She did. She simply de-funded the state pension fund. No contributions while she was Governor. Someone else could deal with the shortfall. When Republicans think state pensions, they think of the secretaries and clerks, AKA the Dark State, AKA unworthy peasants who are lazy, worthless, and should be thankful that they are allowed to work.

    OK, maybe that last sentence was a bit over the top — but not that much.

  14. Okay, I’m late to commenting on this article. Doesn’t the bill just have to do with ESG investing by the state employees pension system, which used to be known as PERF? You mention that the investment decisions should be left to “owners and managers of businesses.” Actually, if input is allowed into the investment decisions of PERF funds, I think the decision should be made by the state employees, i.e. current and future retirees. I believe I agree with the thrust of the bill – that state officials should not be making moral decisions with my (and I do have some money in the state system) money. That’s okay for money I control, not money they control.

  15. I moved to Indiana in 1991 from another state with much better public education. Which could be almost any state–Indiana ranked 48th or 49th out of 50 for education, and has stayed in the 40s for over 30 years. I agree that we should “trust parents to chose what’s best for their children.” However, I was not paid anything for that choice! Some years I homeschooled, other years they attended public school, depending on their needs. If Indiana would put more funds into the public schools and not any into parents’ hands, everyone would benefit.

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