TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – State Representative Clyde Kersey (D-Terre Haute) says he’s optimistic about the 2017 General Assembly session, which will kick off on Wednesday. We caught up with Kersey shortly before he made the trip to Indianapolis. He told me there’s reason for optimism because of a lack of “extremely conservative” bills on the majority party’s (GOP) platform.
“We’re coming back toward the middle,” Kersey said, “and I think we’re going to see more and more bills for public education, which I’m encouraged by.”
Kersey, a retired public school teacher, says lawmakers will re-examine something that went into effect just this school year: the idea of tying teacher raises to I-Step results. Kersey said the state learned that teachers in affluent districts received, in some cases, four-figure raises, while teachers from rural or inner-city schools got small raises, if any.
“I think everybody is in agreement that bill needs to be looked at and changed to make pay for teachers more equal,” Kersey said.
Kersey says he supports a bill that would establish a casino in Terre Haute. However, Kersey agrees with other local lawmakers that this bill will be a tough sell in the Statehouse.
“There’s a lot of anti-gaming sentiment there,” Kersey acknowledged, “and I don’t know that it will pass.”
Kersey said he also supports a bill being carried by Senator Luke Kenley. It’s a bill that lays out a 30 year spending plan for new roads and bridges in Indiana. To fund the plan, Kersey said the bill calls for an 8 to 10 cent increase in the gasoline tax. Kersey said he agrees with the plans call to widen Interstates 65 and 70 to three lanes, however he doesn’t agree with making these roads toll roads.
Lawmakers report to the Indiana Statehouse on Wednesday.