Indiana’s unemployment rate in October was 8 percent – which is in the middle of the pack when compared to the other 49 states. Some industries are hiring new workers, but they are having trouble finding people to fit the unique qualifications for the jobs. One of those is the trucking industry. IPR’s Sarah Phinney reports.
Indianapolis businessman Tim Durham has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for bilking investors out of $200 million. Prosecutors in front of the US District Court in Indianapolis sought a 225-year prison sentence. Durham’s attorney asked for a sentence of three years in prison and two years of home detention. Today, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson and the court heard from victims of Durham’s failed investment bank – Akron, Ohio-based Fair Finance. One victim was an elderly nun who lost more than one hundred thousand dollars of her own money. She had planned to use the funds to help build a school for mentally-challenged children. Durham did speak in his own defense, but the judge later said she did not find remorse in his statement. More than five thousand people lost money when the bank collapsed in 2002. Durham and his associates were convicted of spending investor dollars on lavish homes, yachts, and cars. Durham’s lawyer John Tompkins says he still plans to appeal the conviction.
Running a school corporation is expensive. That’s why Governor Mitch Daniels has pushed consolidation as a way for small, rural schools to save money. But it’s not a popular move. As StateImpact Indiana’s Elle Moxley reports, voters in Northern Parke County recently decided to reorganize in a last ditch effort to avoid consolidation.
Final voter turnout numbers for this month’s election have been released from the Secretary of State’s office today. Connie Lawson says 58 percent of Hoosier registered voters went to the polls during the general election. That is 2.6 of the 4.5 million registered voters. Lawson’s office says the state fell short of the record 62 percent voter turnout reported in the 2008 presidential election.
Wells County – in the IPR listening area – had the highest countywide voter turnout. 72 percent of registered voters cast ballots. Southeast Indiana’s Scott County had the lowest turnout at just 46 percent.
Find county-by-county turnout statistics here.
After months of meetings and hours of testimony, a study committee examining the Department of Child Services finalized recommendations today for how to fix the much-maligned statewide hotline. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith reports.
The study committee also recommended the creation of two committees to help govern the state agency. The DCS Oversight Committee would be made up of legislators, judges, attorneys, and DCS officials and continue the work of the study committee. A second commission would help manage the 30 different Indiana boards and agencies that deal with children’s issues. The creation of both committees would require passage of legislation by the General Assembly.
Ball State University famous alumnus David Letterman returned to Muncie last night to interview another media great – talk show host Oprah Winfrey. IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann was there.
The U.S. Postal Service has partnered with local businesses to create Village Post Offices around the state as a part of its cost-cutting measures. Fourteen have been created in Indiana. But as Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Gretchen Frazee reports, the managers of some of those post offices have not yet seen the increase in business they were hoping to get out of the partnership.
Indiana’s large state budget surplus has triggered a law that give some of that money back to Hoosiers in the form of a tax credit on state tax returns this year. Governor Mitch Daniels announced today that each Hoosier will receive a $111 credit. For married couples filing jointly, the credit is $222. The credit will be part of the normal tax filing process. Daniels says he and lawmakers made sure to give everyone an equal refund.
“We thought that any refund that did happen would be more meaningful to low income and modern income people, and that’s what happened,” he says.
The total amount being returned to taxpayers is $360 million. Democratic House Minority Leader Scott Pelath says that money would be better spent in Hoosier schools or on road projects. Lawmakers recently passed a law triggering the tax credit if Indiana has more than 10 percent of its budget saved in reserves.
Indiana Supreme Court justices want to know whether the state’s school voucher program primarily benefits Hoosier families or religious institutions. The high court heard arguments this morning in a challenge to the 2011 law that allows students to attend private schools at a discounted rate using state-funded vouchers. More than nine thousand students are participating in the program this year, mainly at religious schools. Plaintiffs say that’s an unconstitutional use of state money. Defendants say parents choose where to use the voucher, so it’s legal. Mark GiaQuinta is the Board of Trustees president for Fort Wayne Community Schools. He says fifteen hundred students have left the district for private schools in the area.
Outgoing State Superintendent Tony Bennett says the program brings school choice to any family, regardless of income. Superintendent-elect Glenda Ritz is one of the 12 plaintiffs in the case… but says she will remove herself from that list now that the hearing is complete.
Tony Bennett’s unprecedented state takeovers of five schools with a history of low test scores helped define his four years as state superintendent. These takeovers grabbed headlines. But his teams also identified and, in various ways, intervened in hundreds of struggling schools statewide too. Now, state superintendent-elect Glenda Ritz is preparing to assume some responsibility for helping these schools, and StateImpact Indiana’s Kyle Stokes returned to one Indianapolis school to see how a state-led intervention there has worked out.