We're Seeing Action on Key Bills for Working Families!

As the second full week of the 2019 legislative session comes to an end, the Institute has seen two of our policy agenda items take center stage. Senior Policy Analyst Erin Macey testified in support of SB338, a bill that will expand access to On My Way Pre-K by making children eligible in families where a parent or guardian is disabled and unable, as a result of the disability, to work or attend job training or an educational program, absent, for a limited period of time, from working or attending a job training or an education program as a result of an illness or caring for a family member, or the eligible child's grandparent or great-grandparent. Currently, only children whose parent(s) or guardian(s) is/are working, looking for work, or going to school can access On My Way Pre-K.

Next week, the Institute is preparing to support SB104 which will be heard on January 23rd in the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee, at 1pm.  SB104 will place a 36% APR cap on small loans in Indiana, which is over 350 percent lower than the current Indiana state law allows. Payday loan products causes significant financial distress on Hoosiers across the state as they lead to delinquency and default, overdraft and non-sufficient fund fees, which leads to difficulty in paying mortgages, rent, loss of checking accounts and bankruptcy. ​

An end to predatory lending in Indiana will save low-income Hoosiers approximately $54 million in excessive fees each year, meaning that more people will be able to provide for their families, make ends meet, and achieve economic self-sufficiency. ​Your voice matters and we need your help in our efforts to support SB104 and rein in predatory lending. If you, your clients, or family members have been affected by the predatory nature of payday loans and would like to share your story please click here. If you would like to join the Institute in support of a 36% APR cap rate please sign on here.

There are many other exciting bills we’re following, including:
·       HB 1288, which creates a state-level child and dependent care tax credit
·       SB 440, which raises eligibility and benefits in TANF to 50% of federal poverty
·       HB 1073 and SB 590, which require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers
·       HB 1032, which creates a statewide paid family and medical leave program providing 6 weeks of leave
·       And several bills to raise the minimum wage in Indiana.

Do you love one of these bills? Ask your state rep or senator to sign on as a coauthor! Find your lawmaker here.

Did you know you can also follow our progress by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter? And if you know someone who should be receiving this email please forward it along or share it with them on Facebook.

If you would like to support our work at the Statehouse and ensure that working families continue to have voice at the Statehouse, we welcome donations.

Here are our tracked bills being heard this week.
Reach out to get engaged if something on this list interests you!

HB1002 CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION MATTERS (SULLIVAN H) A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning education and to make an appropriation.
              Current Status:               1/23/2019 - House Ways and Means, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); 
Time & Location: 1:00 PM, Rm. 404
              State Bill Page:               HB1002

              Current Status:               1/22/2019 - House Financial Institutions, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 10:30 AM, Rm. 156-C
              State Bill Page:               HB1136

HB1427 DEPARTMENT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE (LEONARD D) A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning taxation.
              Current Status:               1/23/2019 - House Ways and Means, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:00 PM, Rm. 404
              State Bill Page:               HB1427

HB1447 FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS AND CONSUMER CREDIT (BURTON W) A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning financial institutions.
              Current Status:               1/22/2019 - House Financial Institutions, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 10:30 AM, Rm. 156-C
              State Bill Page:               HB1447

SB99     WAGE ASSIGNMENTS FOR CLOTHING AND TOOLS (BOOTS P) A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning labor and safety.
              Current Status:               1/23/2019 - Senate Pensions and Labor, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 10:00 AM, Rm. 223
              State Bill Page:               SB99

SB104   SMALL LOAN FINANCE CHARGES (WALKER G) A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning trade regulation.
              Current Status:               1/23/2019 - Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:00 PM, Rm. 233
              State Bill Page:               SB104

SB130   UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE MATTERS (DORIOT B) A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning labor and safety.
              Current Status:               1/23/2019 - Senate Pensions and Labor, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 10:00 AM, Rm. 223
              State Bill Page:               SB130

SB180   DISABLED VETERAN RENTER'S DEDUCTION (GLICK S) A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning taxation.
              Current Status:               1/22/2019 - Senate Veterans Affairs and The Military, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 9:00 AM, Rm. 233
              State Bill Page:               SB180

SB210   LICENSE REINSTATEMENT FEE REDUCTION PROGRAM (TAYLOR G) A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning courts and court officers.
              Current Status:               1/22/2019 - Senate Corrections and Criminal Law, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 10:00 AM, Rm. 130
              State Bill Page:               SB210

SB216   EDUCATIONAL COSTS EXEMPTIONS (BOOTS P) A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning higher education.
              Current Status:               1/23/2019 - Senate Education and Career Development, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:30 PM, Senate Chamber
              State Bill Page:               SB216

SB338   PREKINDERGARTEN PILOT PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY (MELTON E) A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning education.
              Current Status:               1/23/2019 - Senate Education and Career Development, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 1:30 PM, Senate Chamber
              State Bill Page:               SB338

SB384   OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING (KOCH E) A BILL FOR AN ACT to amend the Indiana Code concerning professions and occupations.
              Current Status:               1/24/2019 - Senate Commerce and Technology, (Bill Scheduled for Hearing); Time & Location: 9:00 AM, Rm. 130
              State Bill Page:               SB384

Friday, January 18, 2019

AND THEY'RE OFF! The green flag waves on the 2019 legislative session.

The 2019 state legislative session is now in full swing! Institute staff have already been hard at work meeting with lawmakers, analyzing bills, engaging coalition partners, and testifying on a bill to reduce penalties to reinstate driver’s licenses. Now more than ever, we need your support in pursuing policies that set Hoosier families on a path to prosperity. 

Throughout the remainder of session, we will be releasing a weekly blog, Inside the Statehouse, to update you on our efforts - and we will include big and small ways you can advocate for change this sessionOur aim is to provide you with both the analysis and the timing to most effectively get legislative proposals that affect our fellow Hoosiers' ability to thrive across the finish line.

Your voice matters. Although unemployment is relatively low, too many Hoosiers still struggle to afford the basics such as adequate housing, transportation, and childcare. These problems are compounded by the fact that inequality is rising and Indiana is falling behind in measures of well-being. If we wish to reverse the negative direction of the Status of Working Families, we must work together by asking our legislators to support sound policy.

This year, we have identified five key policy items that will put more Hoosiers on track to achieve self-sufficiency and prosperity: stop predatory lending, unlock early education, transform TANF, improve job quality, and increasing earnings. While these items will remain at the forefront of our work, we will also keep you apprised of policy efforts – both positive and negative – that affect working families' financial well-being.

Inside the Statehouse will summarize the week’s legislative actions regarding our 2019 policy agenda. We will also send action alerts at key points in the legislative process. These alerts will inform you of the bill number, its potential consequences, and the actions that we can take to ensure that policymakers prioritize working families.

In addition to our policy agenda, the Institute for Working Families continues to monitor and work on legislation affecting Hoosier families including, but not limited to:

·           state budget and tax policy
·           adult education and workforce development
·          strong social safety nets
·           asset development and consumer protections
·           early education and childcare
·           job quality including paid leave
·           family-sustaining wages

As the 2019 legislative session kicks into high gear, it is important that we work together to fight for working families. If you have personal experiences with the issues we are tackling, or if there are other issues that matter to you, we urge you to take action. Let's make 2019 a winning year for Indiana's working families!

Did you know you can also follow our progress by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter? And if you know someone who should be receiving this email please forward it along or share it with them on Facebook.

If you would like to support our work at the Statehouse and ensure that working families continue to have voice at the Statehouse, we welcome donations.

Friday, January 11, 2019

How Indiana Can Best Capitalize on a New Opportunity to Set Hoosiers on a Path to Success

Nearly four years ago, the federal government undertook the task of guiding and supporting states in building bridges between the workforce – and especially, particular and vulnerable groups in the workforce – and the training and supports necessary to land better job opportunities. It passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which funded our nation’s workforce development programs and required states to write a plan for how they would interconnect these systems. The Act gave them two options for plan structure.

After WIOA was signed into law, everyone who advocates for strong workforce policy mopped their brows, those who made wagers that it would never pass paid their debts, and then we took a deep breath and went straight to work advocating for strong state-level implementation.

The Institute and the Indiana Skills2Compete coalition were no exception. One of the possibilities we were most excited about was the “combined state plan.”  Combined plans offer more nuanced and robust workforce investment options to states through additional partnership and blended funding opportunities as well as an expanded base of populations (like veterans, low-income families, and formerly incarcerated adults) to serve through workforce programming. This plan structure also offered an opportunity to get more of the agencies and programs that intersect with workforce development to sit down together and have a coordinated strategy to better serve their constituencies.

The other option was a “unified state plan.” WIOA requires unified plan to create a four-year strategy for six core programs – the Adult, Dislocated Worker and Youth programs (Title I), the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act program (Title II), the Wagner-Peyser Act program, and the Vocational Rehabilitation program. WIOA requires combined state plans to include all the above programs and one or more additional partner programs, such as TANF, SNAP E&T, Perkins Career and Technical Education, among others.[1] 

Indiana went with a unified plan for our first go-round of WIOA implementation.  However, as the time is drawing near to begin thinking about what the next WIOA State Plan will look like, many advocates and practitioners alike are coming to the realization that we can’t meet post-secondary attainment goals and labor force participation goals without a focus on adults, including special attention on those with barriers and /or low-incomes. In fact, the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet has proposed the development of a combined WIOA state plan for the next round.

The Institute could not applaud this recommendation more.  As we’ve discussed in Clearing the Jobs Pathway, adults with low incomes and training needs require solid workforce programs and social safety net programs to get on a path to self-sufficiency. The chart below, showing the rates of poverty for each level of educational attainment shows a strong correlation between poverty and level of educational attainment. We have documented not only in last year’s paper (mentioned above), but also in last week’s blog post, that in order to succeed in post-secondary education, adults and other non-traditional students need help mitigating the barriers standing in their way such as child care, housing, and transportation.

But Indiana also needs for these adults to succeed in post-secondary attainment and in the jobs market if it is to reach its goals. What better way to accomplish strategic workforce development and overcoming barriers to entry than to create a combined plan, which would enable us to coordinate programs, improve service deliver, leverage and blend funding streams – in short, create a real, multi-agency strategic plan for how all these puzzle pieces should fit together?

Luckily, Indiana is not alone in the wilderness as it thinks through what a combined plan should include and how it can be structured.  Many states already have combined plans in place and we can learn from them what works and what doesn’t.  While this blog is not an exhaustive list of our concerns and recommendations, it outlines below some of the practices that we find promising, as well as areas we should learn more about and take time to consider as we pull together our combined plan. [2] 

First and foremost, we must give careful consideration to which programs we include in the plan.  If we are going to take the time and effort to undertake a combined plan in Indiana, it MUST include TANF and SNAP E&T.  These are the programs that are always absent from the table and the strategic planning. They are key to addressing the non-academic barriers that we know are keeping Hoosiers from persisting in and completing post-secondary educational attainment.  Other programs that would be wise to include are: Unemployment Insurance (especially as we near full employment), Reintegration of Ex-Offenders program, the Jobs for Veterans state grant program, among others.

As we endeavor to bring these programs together to make a combined state plan, it will be critical that they form a common vision along with goals accompanied by a detailed road map of how the specific Indiana agencies, systems and partners intend to achieve each goal laid out in the current State Plan and what tools and metrics are tied to the associated strategies. Both Virginia’s and Pennsylvania’s plans do a good job of laying out very specific goals and strategies and laying out in detail the roles of the agencies and programs toward achieving those goals.  Setting aside the notion of “Unified” vs. “Combined” plans for a second, Indiana’s current plan could use more detail in what is specifically to be achieved, who is responsible for progress, and what is the timeline for the goals therein.  Our next plan should provide sufficient detail on which actors will be involved in driving progress towards each goal or the anticipated timelines of the three goals set forth. It should also indicate who is responsible for implementing future action steps to encourage collaboration and enforce timelines for implementation.

The plan should include a section on career pathways and how the Combined Plan programs will intersect with the state’s existing work on career pathways. We should be looking at what other states have done to build out this model well. Examples of state plans with strong career pathways components include Washington  and Texas. Arkansas also has a strong program funded with support of TANF dollars.

Performance measures, reports, and data linkages will have to be addressed.  Indiana isn’t starting at ground zero with a State Longitudinal Data system, as we do have the Management Performance Hub.  We will want to look at what some states that already have a Combined Plan submitted and, perhaps more importantly, do some reconnaissance on how it went and lessons learned. This could help us identify gaps in MPH’s current system and build in support for filling those gaps.  States that have promising practices on cross agency data and performance measurement include Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.

A Combined Plan is also a great opportunity to finally make progress on launching sector partnerships across the state.  Indiana has been trying to do this for years and so far we have had a lot of false starts and stall outs.  Despite that, there are quite a few either in operation or emerging.  A Combined Plan can focus and support these partnerships.  Indiana has put out good policy on sector partnerships in the past, and a Combined Plan would be a great opportunity to dust it off and implement it.

There will be plenty of administrative challenges to sort out.  How will we link data systems?  How can we ensure a warm hand off of Hoosiers from agency to agency, giving Hoosiers a “no wrong door” entry into these systems?   Who should be trained to navigate all of these systems on behalf of the Hoosiers coming in for services and what is the best way to go about it?  We will have to walk a fine line between not stifling local innovation and creating a real and actionable accountability structure that forces changes that will give us the outcomes we seek.  All of this is no mean feat. But other states have done it and we can – and should - too! 

[1] Full list of potential Combined Plan programs here.
[2] Special Thanks to the National Skills Coalition staff for their help in pulling together all these "promising practice" state plans. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

A Little Louder for Those in the Back

Since at least 2008, the Indiana Institute for Working Families has been talking about how higher education and workforce policies and programs are not meeting the needs of our working adult populations that either lack the skills to be successful in jobs that pay a self-sufficient wage, or need retraining to fit into more lucrative and in-demand career paths. Since our 2010 report, Indiana’s Forgotten Middle Skill Jobs, we have been sounding the alarm pretty ardently that working age adults will make up the bulk of the workforce for the foreseeable future and, as such, should be a key focus of workforce development policies to help us meet increasing employer demand for a skilled workforce.

In 2013, we updated the report, including the workforce age demographic data, showing that 65% of the 2025 workforce WERE ALREADY working-age adults in 2010, long past the traditional K12-to-College pipeline. With the support of the Indiana Skills2Compete Coalition, we were able to help broaden state level workforce development, adult basic education, and higher education policy conversations to include thinking about how to serve this adult workforce. And since then? Indiana has made quite a bit of progress in improving access to training for working adults:
  • The state has opened up EARN Indiana, our state work-study program to part-time adult students. 
  • It has created WorkIN- a model patterned after the nationally recognized best practice “I-BEST” model - that joins contextualized adult basic education with a short term credential and supportive services and has served 28,000 Hoosiers. 
  • It re-imagined the “part-time student grant” into an Adult Student Grant to better use the resource to meet the needs of adult students of higher education. 
  • Most recently, Governor Holcomb and the legislature modified and expanded the Adult Student Grant to create Workforce Ready Grants, a key component of the NextLevel Jobs Program. This program is opening up access to many Hoosiers who need or want to upskill or reskill for Indiana’s in-demand jobs.
As we listen to the conversations around us about higher education and the workforce and as we read through both the recommendations of the Governors Workforce Cabinet, and the handful of workforce development bills that are offered nearly each year, we observe that much of the focus seems to be on those students still in the midst of the K-12 pipeline. The training needs of adults seem like an afterthought.  And yet, as we look at key indicators of adult educational attainment, we see that despite our gains, there is still so much more to be done.  Without question, ensuring that our young people get hooked into the right career path is a great long term strategy to meet workforce demand; however, it should not supplant a sense of urgency around making a big investment in upskilling Hoosier adults NOW.

Here are some of the indicators that tell us we must keep sounding this alarm:

  • Nearly 41% of “working-age” Hoosiers have only a high school diploma or less.[1] 
  • Of the 10.4% of this group with less than a high school diploma, more than 110,000 have less than a 9th grade education. 
  • Programs like Indiana’s adult basic education program, WorkIN, the Goodwill Excel Center, and a host of community-based adult literacy programs are doing the heavy lifting of trying to upskill more than 350,000 working age adults without a high school diploma or equivalency. 
  • Young adults need access to adult basic education as well. In fact, 15% of 18-24 year olds also do not have a high school diploma or equivalency, although some of these may be 18 year olds who have not yet graduated. [2]

Understanding the category “Some College, No Degree” proves challenging for those of us wanting a clearer picture of our state’s educational attainment landscape. This category includes both individuals who took a few classes and dropped out and individuals with one or more short-term credentials.  According to a 2017 report by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, about 10,000 Hoosiers received middle skill credentials in 2015. Of those, some already had an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and many went on to complete an associate or bachelors; 29% had only a certificate.

Hoosiers Currently Attending Post-Secondary 

Just as no single data source has exactly the information we need to paint a complete picture of post-secondary completion, the same is also true when trying to sort out school enrollment data from the American Community Survey (ACS). However, using the ACS, we can get a rough idea of how many of adults are actively seeking skills (although the data includes graduate studies).  We also aren’t sure if this number under reports those seeking middle-skill credentials.

We know that not all of the 177,949 adults 25 and over attending higher education are the same adults that have only a high school education or less, but if they were that would mean that only 9% of those who could benefit from upskilling were actively enrolled in a post-secondary program.  Given the attainment gap we are facing and how far we still are from the BIG GOAL of having 60% of Hoosiers with a credential by 2025[3], not enough Hoosier adults are currently enrolled in post-secondary education.

Labor Force Participation

Skills level can affect the strength of someone’s attachment to the labor force.  High labor force participation is a big priority for our state. As Indiana reaches near-full employment, those who have dropped out of the labor force are the most likely to face barriers to reentry.  In fact, nearly 450,000 of the Hoosiers who are not in the labor force have no more than a high school diploma or equivalency. That number accounts for 58% of all those not in the labor force in 2017. 

These are just a few of the factors  that should lead policy makers to the conclusion that a big, bold investment in the upskilling of adults should be our TOP priority as we continue to make adjustments to the workforce and higher education systems in Indiana. 

Stay tuned for discussion of one strategy that has already been recommended by the Governor’s new Workforce Cabinet and our thoughts about how to best maximize a Combined State WIOA Plan…

[1] We focused on those adults from 25-64 as those adults make up the bulk of the adult workforce and the segment most likely to stay in the workforce for some time. Typically, the educational attainment of adults 25 and over is cited, this population includes many retirees that are out of the workforce, we wanted to see what the stat looked like taking the populations 65 and over out.  We did not find much difference form that 25 and over number, for that larger cohort, 44% have nothing more than a high school diploma or equivalent.
[2] 2017 American Community Survey, US Census Bureau, 1-year estimates
[3] Adopted in the 2012 CHE Strategic Plan: https://www.in.gov/che/files/2012_RHAM_8_23_12.pdf 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

New Analysis: Indiana’s Tax System is Among the Dozen Most Regressive in the Country

New Analysis: Indiana’s Tax System is Among the Dozen Most Regressive in the Country
Low-Income Hoosier Taxpayers pay 53% more as a share of their income in state and local taxes than top 1% of taxpayers

By Andrew Bradley, Senior Policy Analyst
Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy
A new study released today by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) and the Indiana Institute for Working Families finds that Indiana’s state tax structure is among the dozen most regressive in the nation, with the lowest-income Hoosiers paying 53% more as a share of their income in state and local taxes compared to the state’s wealthiest residents.

The study, Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States evaluates all major state and local taxes in each of the 50 states, including personal and corporate income taxes, property taxes, sales and other excise taxes. The analysis reveals that, in addition to being among the dozen states with the most-regressive state tax structures, Indiana taxes its low-income residents at the 8th-highest rate in the country, and second-highest in the Midwest. ITEP finds that the lowest-income 20 percent of Hoosiers contribute 12.8 percent of their income in state and local taxes—considerably more than any other income group in the state.

"The wealthiest Hoosiers have benefited most from our growing national economy. It’s not unreasonable to ask the highest-income residents and corporations to pay their fair share of state and local taxes,” said the Indiana Institute for Working Families’ Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Bradley. “Combined with lower wages compared to our Midwestern neighbors, Indiana’s regressive state tax structure is fueling increased inequality and prevents working Hoosier families from having the same economic opportunities that previous generations used to rely on,” Bradley said.

Indiana’s state tax system is regarded as regressive because the lower one’s income, the higher one’s effective tax rate. This is in part because Indiana, like most other states, relies more heavily on sales and excise taxes to raise revenue, has a flat personal income tax, and offers relatively few tax benefits for low-wage workers. The lowest-income Hoosiers who earn $11,400 on average per year, pay 12.8% of their incomes in state and local taxes, the 8th-highest taxation rate in the U.S. on the lowest earners, and 2nd-highest in the Midwest. Among the next-lowest quintile of Hoosier taxpayers, with an average income is $27,800, state and local taxes are the 6th highest nationally and, on average, account for 11.3% of their income. But in comparison, the wealthiest 1% of Hoosiers, with an average income of $1 million, contribute just 6.8% of their income in state and local taxes. Compared to the rest of the country, Indiana’s state and local tax levy on the top 1% is the 24th lowest (or 28th highest).
Source: Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy
To pay for state and local government services, Indiana derives 42% of its tax revenue from sales and excise taxes—significantly above the national average of 35 percent.Sales and excise taxes are a particularly regressive burden on working families, taking up 7.1% of family incomes for low-income Hoosiers, compared to just 1% for the wealthiest earners. 

The new ‘Who Pays?’ analysis follows the Institute’s August report ‘The Status of Working Families in Indiana, 2018’ which found the wealthiest Indiana earners have received an extra $2,446 from combined state income, corporate, and fuel tax changes since 2012, while taxes for the bottom 60% of middle class and working families have increased by an average $36. The report found these upside-down state tax changes have occurred in an era when inequality increased at a faster rate in Indiana than in the Midwest and the U.S. overall, while Hoosiers’ hourly wages fell from near the middle of the Midwest in 2001 to second-lowest by 2017.

While Indiana should be praised for having a state Earned Income Tax Credit, this year the General Assembly voted to reduce the value of our EITC, effectively raising taxes on low-income working families by $5 million annually starting in 2027. Starting in 2019, Indiana can begin making its tax system fairer by recoupling the state EITC to the federal credit and holding low-income working families harmless to EITC changes. To make long-term progress, Indiana needs to reverse the changes that have made the state’s tax system even more regressive and which exacerbate inequality and income problems for working Hoosier families. Indiana could also take proactive steps to make its tax structure more working family-friendly, including joining the 25 states with a child and dependent care tax credit.

ITEP’s new report “Who Pays?” and data for Indiana can be found at www.whopays.org, while IIWF’s ‘Status of Working Families in Indiana, 2018’ can be found at www.incap.org/iiwf/2018status.html.
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Symposium Shows Hoosiers Support Paid Family and Medical Leave, See Potential Benefits to Economy

When the Indiana Commission for Women hosted listening sessions around the state in 2011-12, work-based issues and caregiving surfaced as key issues. In response, the Commission engaged three research teams to explore the feasibility of guaranteeing paid family and medical leave to workers in the Indiana. The results, presented Wednesday at a research symposium, showed strong support for paid family and medical leave and a clear path forward that would not only benefit Hoosier families, but the economy as well.

Lake Research Partners surveyed 600 Hoosier adults, finding that 74 percent support a statewide program to guarantee access to paid family and medical leave, with 63 percent strongly supporting such a program when they know it would cover paid leave to care for a newborn or newly adopted child, a seriously ill family member, or for their own serious health condition. All demographic, regional, and political groups support the establishment of a paid leave program. In terms of program design, Hoosiers prefer that employees qualify for the benefit by working at least 680 hours in a given year and that employers and employees share the cost of such a program.

What would those costs be? Dr. Jeff Hayes presented estimates for a variety of scenarios, ranging from six weeks of family leave (no medical leave) to 12 weeks of family and medical leave - each program paying 100% of an individual’s average weekly wages up to a cap of $861/week. Costs ranged from $1.50/week for the typical workers for six weeks of family leave to $6/week for the typical worker for 12 weeks of family and medical leave. These costs are estimated to lead to savings in other areas, like reductions in the number of low birthweight babies (and estimated $4.2 million savings in healthcare costs) and in the number of households applying for SNAP and TANF.

Perhaps what was most interesting were some of the findings from qualitative interviews with Hoosiers. Many recognized paid leave as a common sense policy:

       “I’m just thankful that Indiana’s considering this, and realizing the importance of it. And I think that family medical leave is very important. A very important benefit that we do need to be considering.” – White Conservative Woman, 59, Andrews

Those that had caregiving experiences were especially likely to support movement on this issue:

              “So, it’s really difficult because I’ll admit, I’m actually in this situation right now. I’ve had to take time off working altogether because I’m taking care of my disabled mother and we only have one income now, and it’s extremely hard. We can’t even buy something sometimes, and we live paycheck to paycheck, which only comes once a month. A lot of the time, we don’t even know what we’re gonna do as far as eating goes.” – White Liberal Man, 27, Middletown

And while some expressed reservations about whether or not government should step into this space or about potential negative repercussions for businesses, others echoed the findings in our 2016 report, Paid Family and Medical Leave: Policy Analysis and Recommendations for Indiana suggesting that there could be value not only for working families, but for businesses and the economy:

              “When you lose a job it has a domino effect. It doesn’t just affect you and your family and your house. It affects the economy. It eventually hurts everybody.” –White Moderate Man, 49, Martinsville

              “A happy and healthy employee is a good employee. For us, you have to take your business seriously, but you also have to take the health and welfare of your employees seriously.” –White Liberal Woman, 52, Fort Wayne  

In short, the findings suggest that Hoosiers are ready to walk down this path. Audience members at the symposium seemed enthusiastic as well, zeroing in on other potential benefits as well – such as reductions in infant mortality and child abuse, increases in breastfeeding and postpartum care, potential cost savings for employers that already offer paid leave, and a more level playing field for recruitment and retention at small businesses. They recognized Governor Holcomb's leadership on this issue. So while some see our state’s focus on being business friendly as a reason to doubt that Indiana policymakers will take action, many seem prepared to assert that enacting a paid family and medical leave program could be a win-win-win for families, businesses, and the economy. With so much promise, it’s time we explored the possibilities.      

Thursday, September 27, 2018


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