Friday, October 17, 2014

Pence Walks Away from $80M for Indiana Pre-School Initiative

Today Indy Star political reporter Matthew Tully described how Governor Mike Pence surprised the bi-partisan educators he has been working with on a badly needed pre-school initiative by unilaterally deciding to walk away from an $80 million federal grant the group had been aiming at. Tully characterized the governor's decision as "surprise, last-minute and largely unexplained." Members of the Pence-created Early Learning Advisory Committee were informed of the decision not to apply for the grant the FSSA and the Department of Education had been pursuing for a year by an email sent on Wednesday, the day the grant proposal was due. There must have been a lot of disappointment, and puzzlement, over that one.

But maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise. Gov. Pence is now doing to Indiana preschoolers what he has been doing for the uninsured in Indiana for over a year: refusing to accept large sums of federal money that would hugely benefit the people of the state he governs to promote his political prospects as a Republican presidential candidate in 2016. If you think Pence's decision isn't political, read his "explanation" of it here: he represents himself as heroically resisting the siren call of federal money with "strings attached" and boldly positioning Indiana to go its own way on pre-school, much as he has been doing by refusing federal medicare funding that would protect hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers. He can surely imagine the ads his primary opponents would run against him if he sullied himself with payouts from the demonic hands of Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Indiana's students fall further behind and Indiana's uninsured continue to live in the shadow of ruinous healthcare costs.

Read Matt Tully's reporting here.