Amid continuing protests, House Democrats who fled the state last month to stall a package of aggressive Republican labor and education reforms did not return to the statehouse today, saying they would stay out "as long as it takes."
Mary Beth Schneider, at The Indianapolis Star, reports:
Today was the first day of the $250 per day fines that House Republicans have imposed to try to force the Democrats to return. But if anything the Democrats were more insistent that Republicans need to eliminate or greatly modify the bills they object to, including ones affecting collective bargaining and letting public tax dollars pay for tuition at private schools.
“We will stay out as long as it takes,” said Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Austin. “The principles we are fighting for here are the very principles that our party is founded upon: Working families, public schools and Hoosier children.”
That means, he said, that they could stay out until April 29, the day set in law for the General Assembly to have finished its work.
If that deadline lapses, Gov. Mitch Daniels would have to call a special session, something he's said publicly he's more than prepared to do — particularly to get his education reforms passed.
Those education reforms, however — along with union-busting bills like Right-to-Work — are among the most divisive issues on the table. Dems have said they're looking for compromise on bills that would, for example, expand charter schools and give taxpayer funded school vouchers to well-to-do families — vouchers that could go toward private school tuition. Without indication of compromise, they say, they won't be coming back from Illinois any time soon.
Republicans dropped the Right-to-Work bill, opting instead to push for a study of the issue this summer.
Signs are neither side is budging. House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says there will be no backroom deals, which by itself is admirable. But short of a Democratic return, which seems it will require some kind of deal-making, it's hard to imagine this deadlock unlocking unless there's a little wheeling and dealing.