State Democrats headed to county to promote jobs plan

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GREENFIELD — Several state Democrats are joining the county party for an event this weekend to promote President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which they say will help Hoosiers get back to work in a better, more equal environment after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “Picnic in the Park” event on Sunday, July 18 will be a stop on the state Democratic party’s American Jobs Plan tour. The event will be the first major gathering for county Democrats since the start of the pandemic and will take place at Riley Park from 2-6 p.m.

County chair Linda Genrich said she’s excited about the opportunity to spread the word on the legislation, which follows the earlier American Rescue Plan that sent billions to state and local governments to respond to the pandemic.

“Adding in the American Jobs Plan will only elevate us further by providing the proper roads and bridges to get to those higher-paying jobs and the quality child care that is needed to be able to feel safe about leaving our children while at work,” Genrich said. “We need this added security in Hancock County to allow for happier, healthier families.”

Congress is currently considering the American Jobs Plan, which Biden proposed as an investment of over $2 trillion in growing jobs through investment in infrastructure and in “green jobs” that would focus on renewable energy. It also includes spending on child care, veterans’ programs and other areas, and it is paired with a tax plan that would, among other things, increase the corporate tax rate by 7%.

Republicans have criticized the plan as spending too much and including too many objectives not directly related to jobs and infrastructure. Indiana Republicans, including both of the state’s senators and Rep. Greg Pence, whose district includes Hancock County, have said they would not vote for it.

The chairman of the state party, Mike Schmuhl, who will speak at the event on Sunday, said the proposed legislation includes benefits that would be important for many rural Hoosiers, including an investment in providing broadband internet, and that it would result in higher wages for American workers.

Jon Hooker, leader of the state party’s labor caucus and a representative of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, said the American Jobs Plan could help raise wages of all Hoosier workers. That’s because it would override the state’s “right to work” law, which forbids unions from requiring all workers at a business to be members.

“Studies have shown it’s lessened the amount of earnings, whether you’re union or non-union,” Hooker, who’s also scheduled to speak, said of Indiana’s right to work law.

Hooker said investment in infrastructure is especially important for communities where rural areas border areas that are experiencing rapid development. The investment could address the state of local roads that can’t keep up with new, increased traffic.

“This plan would do wonders for the whole state and especially a place like Hancock County,” he said.

Democratic state Rep. Renee Pack will also speak at the “Picnic in the Park” event. She hopes to convey that the American Jobs Plan would have important benefits for groups like veterans and families with young children.

“I hope they take away a sense of hope for days to come,” she said.