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STATE REP. PATRICK BAUER (D), INDIANA: Well, there will be a voucher bill that is--who is in effect--we"re trying to make it lower income families and a lower number. Right now, they have it so it"s split the first year. It would cost the state approximately $800 million in the second year, about $1.6 -- $160 million. That"s $100 million, $160 million the second year, $80 million the first and that will be taken from public education.
If we can lower the number that are eligible and that if we can keep that income to just lower income families, we might be able to work something out. They have moved in the one area of lowering the amount. It"s down to about $61,000 now for a family of four. There is some progress there.
SCHULTZ: Yes. Mr. Battles do you see this as the big sticking point to bring you folks home?
STATE REP. KREG BATTLES (D), INDIANA: I think it"s one of the big sticking points. Clearly, we"re worried about two things. We"re not only worried about making sure we provide the best education we can afford for the young people in Indiana, but it"s just as crucial that once they get that education, they have the ability to get a job and more importantly a job that earns a living wage. And those living wage issues are just as important as the education. I think they"re dually important.
SCHULTZ: Greg Porter, Governor Daniels called teachers and other public employees, quote, "the privileged elite." Do state employees in Indiana agree with that? What is the response to that?
STATE REP. GREG PORTER (D), INDIANA: Absolutely not. We"re not the privileged elite. That"s just a sound bite the governor wants to portray in our society. They are hardworking middle class Americans here in our state of Indiana and they"re doing a wonderful job. And our state has been built on the back of those individuals in our community. Teachers are hardworking public servants as well as educators in our great state.
SCHULTZ: And, Mr. Porter, how do you think Indiana residents feel about tax dollars going to private education? When not everybody in that state can afford private education?
PORTER: That is not something that we--we"ve done a poll and almost 60 percent of the individuals do not agree with that in regards to vouchers going to public schools--I mean, private schools. You cannot take private--public dollars to provide public education and private schools. That"s just not the way it should be done.
And we, as our citizens do understand that and that"s what this is about. We slowed down the process, Ed, to show individuals what was going on in our community. Now that the people really realize what is happening, we"re getting more support in regards to our slowdown and putting the Republicans in a time-out mode.
SCHULTZ: Yes. And Democrats--
BAUER: And we"re getting support from Republican teachers, too.
SCHULTZ: Are you getting support? So, is the tide turning do you think in your favor?
BAUER: Well, the--we"re getting thousands of e-mails and that includes a lot of Republicans supporting us in this education battle, in this fight to save working people.
SCHULTZ: Mr. Bauer, finally, I understand that Republicans need six of the 37 Democrats to return in order to go ahead with voting. Is that the case? Just how unified is your group at this point?
BAUER: Well, they do need six and we"re very unified. Every day, we come together and for strength and to keep on going and keep on fighting.
SCHULTZ: You see a lot of parallels on what"s going on in Wisconsin, what"s happening with you folks in Indiana. Do you think it"s an orchestrated effort across the board by the conservatives?
BAUER: Well, that"s what I understand. I understand that there are many Republican governors that are going after public employees, including teachers. Our governor, six years, seven years ago, ended collective bargaining--
BAUER: -- for public state officials. He"s now expanding that to include local public officials and teachers. And that is happening in other states. So, there seems to be an attack on education and on public employees everywhere. Ours is even deeper, though, because they"re going after prevailing wage and project labor agreements--
BAUER: -- which--so they"re going deeper, wider, and harder in Indiana.
SCHULTZ: We will follow a story in Indiana. Indiana State Representatives Patrick Bauer, Kreg Battles, and Greg Porter--thank you so much for joining us tonight.
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