ELKHART — Democratic gubernatorial hopeful John Gregg would bring a more open approach to government if elected, seeking ideas and input from all comers.
He’d also put an increased focus on education.
That was part of the message from his runningmate Vi Simpson, who traveled to Elkhart Thursday as part of the campaign.
“We want an administration that works from the bottom up, not from the top down,” she said during a stop at the offices of the Elkhart Truth, accepting input from Democrats, Republicans and independents alike. “Not all good ideas are Republican ideas and not all good ideas are Democratic ideas.”
As is, Gov. Mitch Daniels, a Republican, is “used to saying this is the way it’s going to be, everyone come along,” said Simpson. GOP gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence, she added, is the same way.
Gregg, from Sandborn, is former speaker of the Indiana House of Representatives while Simpson, from Ellettsville, currently serves in the Indiana Senate. Here’s more from Simpson, seeking the lieutenant governor’s post:
Education: Reduced educational funding in recent years is a concern and Gregg would make education a higher priority.
Lawmakers can increase educational standards, but if there’s no money to cover the cost of complying with the new demands, schools will fall behind.
“I think the best education reform is to address funding,” said Simpson. Improving education, she added, is an important prong in addressing unemployment and dealing with the jittery economy.
Simpson opposed state legislation creating an educational voucher program, saying it reduces funding for public schools. The formula for distribution of funds to schools, moreover, is “flawed,” hurting urban school districts like Elkhart Community Schools.
Job Creation: The admistration of Gregg and Simpson would favor more investment and job creation efforts in communities outside Indianapolis, Simpson said.
Moreover, there would be a strong focus on promoting job growth among existing companies in Indiana, aside from luring new ones.
“That’s where the growth in business is going to be,” she said. Job creation in the future will come chiefly in small spurts of, say, one to three posts at a time at existing firms.
Simpson also spoke of the need to improve contacts and communication between Indiana research universities and Indiana entrepreneurs. That way, ideas that spring forth in the state can be developed here as well.
Children in need: Simpson favors putting an increased focus on Indiana’s Department of Child Services, which assists abused and neglected children. As is, the department doesn’t spend all the funds it’s allocated, she lamented.
Helping abused and neglected children is “an urgent situation we think needs to be addressed right away,” she said.
Pay equity: Women, on average, earn 74 cents to every dollar earned by men, and that needs to be addressed.
Federal legislation already requires equal pay for men and women doing similar jobs. Gregg and Simpson propose efforts at the state level to assure compliance, maybe via creation of a special phone hotline or increased outreach to companies.
Infrastructure: Gregg will be coming out with a proposal in the next month or so to deal with roads, bridges, broadband accessibility and other infrastructure questions.