Parenting at the Statehouse

by | Apr 11, 2015 | Politics/Government

With only a few weeks to go in Indiana’s legislative session (no more than 18 days for those of us who are counting), it is a good time for everyone involved to review.  Why now?  Because this session, like no other in memory, really needs a strong finish.  So far, the high profile issues cannot have left the General Assembly with much of a sense of accomplishment.

I have cited this quote before, but as a parent, I think about it often.  President Obama, when describing when we are at our best as a people, following the Sandy Hook shootings, spoke of us taking care of our children.  He said:

“We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that.”

If we apply those principles to our daily lives, we will be doing great things.  For our purposes here today, apply it to the legislative session. The next 18 days are the legislature’s last chance for two more years to do some “making a difference.”  So, will they?

Yes, I am talking about our state budget.  It’s a topic that bores most of the public.  It’s also the best documentation of our priorities as a state and as a people.  The current version of the budget doesn’t exactly match my priorities, but there is still hope.

Our state has become slaves to the surplus.  With $2 billion in a rainy day fund, one would think it difficult to look at families in need of services for their children with disabilities for example and say “we don’t have .01% of our rainy day fund to help you.”  Somehow, saying that to them has gotten embarrassingly easy.  I think those families feel like it’s raining right now–so offering them an umbrella two years from now is not much of a consolation.

Parents have to say “no” a lot.  That’s why it does make saying “yes” all that much more rewarding.  The current version of the budget has answered way too many questions with a “no” right now, and the reason behind those answers is almost all traced back to our voluntary slavery to a surplus that seemingly won’t ever be used.

This week in Indiana, we celebrate the lives and the passing of two special young people, and I celebrate their parents with them.

Ryan White died 25 years ago this week.  In his short life, The Kokomo native did more for HIV/AIDS awareness than anyone I can recall.

Yesterday, Lauren Hill passed away after a storied battle with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a rare form of cancer.  The young lady from Lawrenceburg became famous as a college basketball player at Mount St. Joseph’s College–after her diagnosis.  Her game time basket last year will be remembered forever.

These were two great young people.  In these two classic examples, I am particularly drawn to the approach their parents took in celebrating the inevitable and premature endings to their lives, while Ryan and Lauren were living. Thank you to the parents for sharing their children with us.

I am glad those parents didn’t tell their kids “no.”

With 18 days to go, let’s hope the legislature will think like parents in the Statehouse.  You know, let’s hope they approach their jobs like their kids are watching, like only kids know how.  And let’s hope all of us, the children of the state, pay attention like we should.

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