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Goodin: IN Dems duty is to stay in IL

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on March 3, 2011 at 11:37 PM

Updated Thursday, Mar 3 at 11:52 PM

(WHAS11) -- Just when it appeared that there might be some progress toward ending the stalemate at the Indiana statehouse, House Minority Leader Pat Bauer told reporters on Thursday that it was "very doubtful" that the boycotting Democratic lawmakers would return from their Illnois exile on Monday.

"The atmosphere is suddenly as hostile as when we left," Bauer said, "We thought there was improvement, but obviously not."

The absence of Democrats is denying the Republican majority a quorum, a strategy to prevent legislation Democrats oppose.

The battle escalated on Thursday as Republicans decided that boycotting lawmakers would be fined $250 for each day absent from the legislature.

"That does not help the process any at all," said Rep. Terry Goodin (D-Crothersville), "the threats, the accusations, that's almost like schoolyard bullies."

Goodin and more than thirty other Democrats walked off the House floor last Monday and have been at an Urbana, Illinois hotel since last Tuesday. 

For now, Republicans are holding off a formal censure of the absent Democrats, but it remains a threat.

"I would not want my name listed in the clerk's records of the Indiana House and the House Journal for posterity that will very clearly describe the actions that have been taken and cost the taxpayer," said House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis).

"I hope he does censure us," Goodin said, "because history will tell that what we're doing is correct and it was the right thing to do for Hoosiers."

As Goodin spoke to WHAS11 via Skype from inside the Illinois hotel, Southern Indiana Republican Rhonda Rhoads is at home... and flabbergasted.

"I can't imagine being an elected official and leaving the state when you're supposed to be doing a job," Rhoads said.

"We're doing our work here," Goodin insisted.

Goodin calls the walkout a simple tactic to slow down the legislative process and bring the conversation back to the middle.  Rhoads says Republicans are already there -- and waiting.

"You cannot work on compromise, if that's what they want, or you cannot work on making a bill better when you're in another state," Rhoads argued.

While Republicans have already dropped a Right to Work bill that labor unions fought, Goodin - who is also the superintendent of Crothersville Community Schools - is especially concerned about GOP bills allowing education vouchers and charter schools.
 
"That's extreme," Goodin said, "That's exactly why we left the state of Indiana is because this is truly a radical agenda."

Rhoads, a former teacher, disagrees.

"There are parents who have no options," Rhoads explained, "They live in areas where they can't move out of them.  They go to schools, by the state's definition, are failing schools.

"If we can affect the lives of just a few," Rhoads continued, "by giving them opportunities to go to a charter school or to use some money that their parents pay in taxes to go to a private, non-public school.  I think saving that child, giving that child the best education they can give, I don't think that's a bad thing."

On the issues and on the map -- the two sides are miles apart. 

While Goodin is gone, his twin brother Jerry Goodin - a state trooper - is minding his beef cattle farm.

"I don't want to show up around there because if he gets the edict to have to gather up these legislators, I don't want to put him in that spot," Goodin laughed, "He'll cuff me and take me in."

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