INDIANAPOLIS–On Thursday, Governor Holcomb announced his Next Level agenda for the 2021 legislative session. State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) released the following statement in response to the governor’s agenda:

“We are undoubtedly heading into one of our most important legislative sessions, as all across the state, Hoosier families struggle to make ends meet during this difficult time. Yet, when you look at the governor’s priorities for 2021, there seems to be a glaring lack of solutions for the Hoosiers who are most in need.

“We are on the verge of an eviction crisis, yet there was no mention in the governor’s address about protecting Hoosiers who are at risk of losing their homes during this pandemic. There was no mention of providing Hoosiers with assistance to pay for utility assistance as we head into winter. At the moment, our state still boasts $300M in coronavirus relief funds, and I urge the governor to make it a focus to have those funds directed to the residents in need of housing and utility assistance.”

“The governor’s failure to clearly commit to raising teacher pay this year, was also a cause for concern. Simply reading the recommendations from the teacher compensation report will not suffice as a solution. Let’s be clear: we cannot afford to kick the can down the road a moment longer. We need to deliver for our Hoosier teachers, who have extended themselves even more than usual this year as we dealt with this virus. I strongly encourage the governor to urge his republican caucus to make teacher pay raises a nonnegotiable priority this year.

“It was also incredibly disappointing to see no mention of racial justice or police reform in the governor’s agenda. This year, we saw people all across the globe stand in solidarity with urban communities in the fight for racial justice and equality, and it’s essential that our state makes progress in this area; requiring body cameras, and only for state police, is not nearly enough. The fact that police reform is not a top priority for the governor, following the events of this summer and after several meetings with the IBLC, is deeply worrisome and I hope the governor renews his promise to create a plan to address glaring issues in our criminal justice system. This critical issue is not one that can be put on the backburner, and I hope the governor will show support for the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus’s agenda this year– which was created after speaking with thousands of Hoosiers across the state.

“As always, Senate Democrats stand ready to work with the governor and our colleagues across the aisle to ensure every voice is heard in the legislative process and that we address the big issues impacting everyday families.”