Senate goes to work to ‘salvage session’

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E-mail from the Indiana Senate Majority Caucus:

Senate goes to work to ‘salvage session’
President Pro Tem Long asks Sen. Kenley to begin budget hearings, include all lawmakers who didn’t “cut and run”

(March 17, 2011) – Indiana state senators will “go to work to salvage the 2011 session,” President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) said today.

Long this morning asked Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, to begin immediate hearings on a balanced two-year state budget.

“Lawmakers went into the session aware of the severe financial crunch felt by states due to the prolonged national recession. However, the work stoppage by Indiana House Democrats has made a difficult session nearly impossible and lacking the civility, decency and responsibility Hoosiers expect officials to display,” Long said. “Citizens have every right to ask, ‘How dare they?’ Legislators were elected to represent our constituents and to be here to voice their concerns. We respect our jobs and respect those who put us in them.”

Long said time was running out for Kenley and other senators to write a budget, conduct hearings, question state agencies and seek public testimony. He said he will ask other Senate committee chairs to work with both Senate caucuses and House Republicans to combine other pending legislation “where warranted and appropriate.”

“The people’s work must be done, so I’ve asked Senator Kenley to take up the budget bill beginning on Monday and to thoughtfully and respectfully include Senate Democrats and House Republicans in that process. We will listen and work with all lawmakers who didn’t cut and run.”

Kenley confirmed he will commence a series of state budget hearings starting next week.

“Responsible, accountable, honest budgeting is vital, especially when resources are so scarce,” Kenley said. “The transparent process constituents have come to expect takes time and effort on lawmakers’ part. Everyone must work together to make certain state government is as efficient and effective as possible. Hoosier families have been forced to make tough spending decisions these past few years. They know firsthand those decisions take time and are not made lightly. Government should be no different. We should not rush. We should get it right.”

Both Long and Kenley emphasized the Senate’s work has continued since the House Democrats’ walkout on Feb. 21.

“Citizens have testified and been heard on 56 different bills during 21 Senate committee hearings since House Democrats ran away to the state of Illinois,” Long said. “Jobs, education, health care, public safety and other matters important to the people of Indiana are being discussed and decided. I applaud senators of both parties and House Republicans for staying on the job – engaged in policy, not politics.”

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