The Republic Masthead

Lettter: Elect leaders who will invest in education


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From: Kermit Merl Key

Columbus

It would seem that Gov. Mike Pence and Republicans are sticking firm with the idea that cutting taxes is the only way to attract new businesses to our local communities. Yet in Tennessee, despite the “state Republican leaders accusing Volkswagen of supporting the UAW and threatening to withhold any tax incentives for future expansion ... if workers vote to join the UAW,” (USA Today, Feb. 10), Volkswagen fully supports the UAW and the workers’ intent to unionize. According to Lydia Depillis of the Washington Post (Feb. 10), “The German company is campaigning for the UAW, not against it because it understands how having a union can boost productivity and allow it greater flexibility in adjusting to downturns. It should know: The rest of its plants are unionized too.”

What Pence and his fellow Republicans seem to forget is that once a company opens for business in a local community, it is going to need two things: quality employees and consumers. But in an AP article dated April 28, 2013, “just a third of Purdue graduates are working in Indiana five years after graduation.” The article goes on to discuss some of the correlation between Indiana’s brain drain and economic consequences including “Indiana’s per capita personal income and higher levels of education.”

According to the U.S. census, Indiana’s per capita money income for 2012 was $24,558. The average U.S. per capita money income was $28,051. One reason for the departure is the lack of jobs available, but then there also seems to be a “skills gap,” a shortfall of skilled manufacturing workers to meet employers’ needs.

And despite endeavors by Pence to create workforce development, the right-to-work law (designed to break unions) has served to suppress wages, thus decreasing the incentive for Hoosiers to seek those skills and creating a circular death march.

Whether it’s a skills gap or a brain drain, Indiana is struggling to provide employers with quality employees. Add in the right to work (for less) and companies have fewer consumers who can afford to buy their products. In order to end this downward spiral we must elect leaders who understand that we must invest in our public education system — the system all Hoosiers have a stake in — and raise the minimum wage to a living wage standard so that businesses have both employees and consumers when they open shop in our local communities, creating a cycle of growth.

We cannot afford to cut, cut, cut any longer. We’re running out of rope.

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