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October 9, 2012

HAYDEN: Today’s Hoosiers hold less of American dream

Ind. among bottom 10 states in personal income

INDIANAPOLIS – You may be hearing a lot more about the “American dream” from Republicans in the Indiana Statehouse in coming months.

Last week, Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma – confident that the GOP will continue to control the Statehouse after the November election – called a press conference to announce his caucus’ legislative agenda for 2013.

He gave the plan a theme: “Own Your American Dream.”

It’s about jobs and education and a balanced state budget. It lacks legislative detail, but it’s aspirational.

“It is every parent’s hope that their children will be better off than their own generation,” Bosma said, after telling a story about his immigrant ancestors who came to the U.S. in 1908 with little more than a dream.

“But for the first time in history,” he continued, “the majority of Americans believe that the next generation will not enjoy a quality of life better than their parents.”

His lofty words were mostly lost on his immediate audience. Reporters who covered the event, myself included, latched on instead to his comments about social issues that may crowd the GOP agenda, including a pending constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage and civil unions. (No American dream for same-sex couples?)

That, and the declaration of independence he made on behalf of the Legislature when he questioned whether a big tax cut promised by his own party’s front-running candidate for governor, Mike Pence, would make it through the legislative budget process. (Ditto for Democrat John Gregg’s tax-cut plan.)

“Our team has a long-term vision, not a campaign-oriented vision, for how we budget,” Bosma said.

Bosma wanted us to pay more attention to the plan, which pledges action to create better-paying jobs and expand and improve educational opportunities for Hoosiers.

Those are good goals. Because while Bosma called Indiana the “envy of every state in the nation” for ending up with a state budget surplus after some tough budget-cutting years, he knows that envy has a limit.

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