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Lawmakers Urged to Consider Hard-Working Hoosiers

The 2016 legislative session has begun, and the Indiana Institute for Working Families says more can be done to help low-wage earners in the state. (Massimo Catarinella/Wikimedia Commons)
The 2016 legislative session has begun, and the Indiana Institute for Working Families says more can be done to help low-wage earners in the state. (Massimo Catarinella/Wikimedia Commons)
January 6, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana state legislative session has begun, and one group is hoping lawmakers will keep hard-working Hoosiers in mind.

The Indiana Institute for Working Families has released its priority list for 2016, and the group's program manager, Jessica Fraser, said the focus needs to be on removing all the barriers that keep some Indiana residents from staying above the poverty line.

"What can we do to raise wages? What can we do to make sure that families are making ends meet, have a healthy safety net for when times do get hard again? Because the recession, it'll come back around again," she said.

After the recession hit a few years ago, Fraser said, Indiana tried hard to position itself as "pro-business." That's been accomplished, she said, and now the focus needs to swing back to helping residents who are struggling.

On the Institute's list of changes that need to be made is opening the Earn Indiana program to part-time students. As it is now, Fraser said, full-time students can earn money through internships in their field of study. However, she pointed out that there are many older students with families who aren't able to give up their jobs to attend full-time. She said wages are another concern.

"We often talk about how lucky Indiana is to have such a low cost of living, but a single adult in any county in Indiana cannot survive on the minimum wage and be self sufficient," she said. "So there's some work to be done on making sure families can earn enough through hard work to meet their basic needs."

Fraser said other changes on the wish list include eliminating asset limits for those in the SNAP program and reducing driver's license suspensions for violations unrelated to safety so people can get to work and school.

The Indiana Institute for Working Families is part of the Community Action Association, which has a goal of ending poverty in the state.

The list of priorities is online at incap.org.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN