NUVO: Introduce yourself in 200 words or less.
Michael Adkins, 62, is a lifelong resident of Hancock County. He has been married over 42 years to Candy, a public school teacher. They have 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren.
Michael is retired after serving in the Criminal Justice system, the Indiana Department of Mental Health, Executive Director of a non-profit organization, and in the private sector as an insurance marketer.
NUVO: Describe your district, name some features that make it special or unique. List three serious issues facing your district and note how they would translate to your legislative priorities.
Adkins cites a number of reasons for running in this is his campaign for office. Foremost among these are the attack on public school teachers and the policies of the past 30 years that have harmed America's middle class. He cites the CEO of a Fortune 500 company who declared this country needs "militant moderates" to stand up to elected officials who will not work together. Michael firmly believes that the massive impact of moneyed special interests in our political system has led to a general feeling of disenfranchisement of the American voter. Despite serving as the Chair of a county political party, Michael seldom votes a straight party ticket. He firmly believes in voting for the person before the party.
Senate District 28 is the product of an attempt to reduce Democratic representation from Marion County. It divided Warren Township and placed over 31,000 voters into a district that includes all of Hancock County and northern Shelby County. Demographically, it pretty much mirrors the population of Indiana as a whole. While much of the district is rural, the great majority of the population lives in cities, towns and suburbs. It is one of the state's districts in which African-Americans comprise over 10 percent of the population.
Jobs and education are the two biggest issues among the District's voters. We need better paying jobs. The middle class in America have not seen an increase in real income since 1973 and over the last decade Hoosier's real income has declined. Indiana's policies must be focused upon creating an environment that promotes higher paying jobs and that includes a return of manufacturing to Central Indiana. I have actually proposed the funding of low-interest loans for small-business start ups; tax credits and retrofit assistance for the return of manufacturing; and the creation of an Infrastructure Investment Fund to provide low interest loans to local governments to improve their infrastructures. We know this creates jobs in the middle class and returns on average $1.59 for every dollar invested.
Education is the single subject in which I am most passionate. We must stop demonizing teachers and free them up from layers of bureaucracy. I support early childhood education. I have proposed the elimination of all but federally-mandated standardized tests to increase time spent actually teaching. I proposed a 21st Century vocational/technical high school degree program which enhances the partnership between public schools and IVY Tech, but also brings the private sector and labor apprenticeship programs into the mix. I also called for a public-funded low-interest student loan program geared to reduce Indiana's brain drain by rewarding those who are employed in Indiana with a debt reduction schedule.
I firmly believe Indiana must prioritize its services and spending. To that end, I propose legislation that prohibits any corporate or special interest legislation with a fiscal impact be passed until both chambers of the General Assembly pass their versions of an adequate budget for essential services, including public safety and education. Everything else should be prioritized on the value received by Hoosiers and the return on the taxpayer investment.
NUVO: If you could provide one element of constructive criticism about the 2012 General Assembly, what would it be?
Adkins: Only one? While Right to Work is an obvious choice, I would have to say my biggest criticism is how close the General Assembly came to allowing the Governor to pull Hoosiers out of Medicare.It took a big stink by Senate Democrats to scratch Medicare from the House bill and the compromise from the Joint Committee omitted it but allows the General Assembly to revisit the issue.
NUVO: How you do think an extended era of solid Republican control over the General Assembly will influence legislators' work at the Statehouse? Could you comment on how you envision bi-partisanship and checks and balances functioning in this environment?
Adkins: I know Republicans who are concerned about having full GOP dominance in the legislature. The GOP has become so emboldened they broke the Governor's promise to labor and passed RTW. The very fact they tried to opt Indiana out of Medicare because of radical ideology is scary. It concerns me that the GOP policies have been kind to the middle class. A greater dominance by the GOP will embolden the Tea Party and make bi-partisanship all but impossible.
NUVO: If you could ask one question of your opponent, what would it be?
Adkins: My opponent is a very nice guy. Of all the questions I could ask, number one would be how can you accept so much special interest campaign contributions and say you will not be beholden to any special interest?
NUVO: What question do you wish we'd asked and how would you answer it?
Adkins: The question I would have enjoyed is what is my take on the budget surplus? I would be proud of the surplus if it had been created by an overly conservative revenue projection. Rather, it was created by inadequately funding essential services and taking $1 billion in federal stimulus funds and reverting over 60% of it back to the General Fund.