Friday, January 16, 2015

Getting It Right: Considering the State of the State

I did not listen to Governor Mike Pence's State of the State address earlier this week. I will likely now go back and revisit the session via recording. I received today a request from a member of my state library association to respond to a pending budget cut recommendation from the Governor's office that would remove access to a general research database known as INSPIRE. Here's what I had to say to my state senator and state representative:
As this legislative session kicks off in 2015, I have become aware that a budget proposal exists to cut the funding that provides statewide access to the resource INSPIRE. INSPIRE is a means of access to scholarly information for our public at-large, and serves not only public library constituencies but also those secondary school students and members of the voting and non-voting public who come to my institution's academic library for research assistance.

I work at the University of Notre Dame, and while we have a subscription to the same resource, because of our licensing terms, we are not able to provide access to the resource to members outside of our campus community. However, we are able to impact the successful study of students at both public and private schools who are conducting research into projects with roots in engineering and construction and historical impacts of economic events. Access to the statewide subscription to INSPIRE ensures that these students can continue their research in their classrooms or at home after the end their visit to our library.

I am happy to supply other examples that can help you make the case for preserving the budget to support this educational resource. I would ask that if [removal of reference to senator's name] you are looking for ideas on how to expend all or part of our state's budget surplus, you advocate for bolstering access to these and other educational tools, as well as providing for access to free and low cost health care for unemployed and underemployed men, women and children who are residents of the State of Indiana.

With Best regards,
I have received paper mailing surveys from both my senator and representative in the past weeks. They are, thankfully, interested in soliciting input as the legislative session has gotten under way. The survey is never worded clearly and never really seems to have enough room to respond in any given detail. This isn't the first time I've contacted the politicians who steer policy and laws to govern my life, but I'm at an age where I'm really starting to feel it.

I've been up in arms in the past few years about inconsistencies that disparage those who truly are in need. Who, for whatever reason are unable to bootstrap themselves out of hardship or poverty. Our state has little compassion when it comes to providing for these individuals. We [state leadership] are proudly hailing our budget surplus. Yet we have individuals who go without at the most fundamental needs, and who have little or no access to the services they need.

We need to identify the ways to get it right, justly and ethically so, within the State of Indiana. There is no one answer, but let's strip off the mantles of party allegiance at the state and national levels to remove the barriers to health, welfare and education that we can. No change will be overnight. It's all relative and all incremental. Yet, can we not do this?

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