Penny Githens Statement on Hindered I-69 Project

BLOOMINGTON  - Penny Githens, candidate for Indiana State House District 60, released the following statement in regards to the recent halt of construction on I-69.


“The latest mismanagement of the I-69 construction project is another example of poor leadership from the Pence Administration and the Republican supermajority in the statehouse. We are lacking a clear path for completing this project.


We need to cancel the contract between the Indiana Finance Authority and the I-69 Development Partners and put Indiana Department of Transportation in charge of construction. This is the second major shut down in just a few months caused by non-payment of subcontractors, which violates the Public-Private Agreement signed in April 2014.  The Public-Private Authority was created to float bonds in a way that would not have this show up as a state debt.  Had the state floated the bonds, the amount of money being borrowed to finance Section 5 of I-69 would have shown up on our account books.

Section 5 of I-69 was to have been completed in October 2016.  Now, we are being told that it will not be completed until June 2017.  As we wait for that to occur, how many hours will Hoosiers waste sitting in traffic?  How many more multi-vehicle accidents will occur like the one last Friday?  And how much more will we pay for additional gasoline as we sit in stalled traffic? 

It's time to restore common sense to the Indiana statehouse and legislature.”


Keys to the Candidates Q&A: Indiana House of Representatives, District 60

Unedited responses to questions from the League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County 0/7/2016

Penny Githens (D)

Peggy Mayfield (R)

1. What are your qualifications for the office you are seeking?

GITHENS: I grew up in Indiana, have lived in Indiana House District 60 for over 20 years, hold a B.S. from Purdue and an M.S. from IU. I currently serve on the Steering Committee of the Democratic Women’s Cause and on the Bloomington Commission on the Status of Women. Earlier I served on the boards of both local and state autism societies.

MAYFIELD: No response.

2. What are your top three priorities for your office and, if elected, how will you address them?

GITHENS: My top three priorities are public education, living-wage jobs, and infrastructure rehabilitation. I will work to mandate kindergarten for all students, to provide quality pre-Kindergarten programming to all children, and to reduce the amount of time and money spent on state-mandated testing. I support the re-enactment of the common construction wage and will work with Vocational Rehabilitation, Work One and Ivy Tech to ensure that Indiana workers have 21st Century job skills. I will push for sustainable funding to repair and replace our crumbling roads and bridges while also addressing the need to upgrade our water and sewer systems and expand broadband services in the rural parts of Indiana. Improving our infrastructure is another way to boost growth and provide more Hoosiers with living-wage jobs.

MAYFIELD: No response.

3. How and by whom should redistricting be done?

GITHENS: Redistricting should be done by an independent commission. After each census, the commission should determine the average number of constituents that should be in each district — Congressional plus Indiana House and Senate — and then seek to keep the number of residents in each district as even as possible. Districts should be drawn, wherever possible, along existing county lines, but also incorporate adjustments to prevent “natural gerrymandering.” In the case of the Indiana House, this would minimize the number of Representatives in a given county, reduce the number of counties a given Representative would need to represent, and promote fair political representation. It would make it much easier for federal and state legislators to work effectively with local officials and their constituents.

MAYFIELD: No response.

4. What is the impact of vouchers on the Indiana constitution's requirement for "a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all”?

GITHENS: Vouchers should be discontinued immediately. While vouchers – or Indiana’s “Choice Scholarship Program” – may be equally open to all, private school admission is not. Private schools are not required to provide transportation, free/reduced-price lunches, Title I reading programs or to admit special education students. This strongly discriminates against special education students, poor families, and families whose work schedules do not allow them to transport their children to or from school. In other words, private schools are not the same force for educational equality as public schools. If the students in specific public schools are underperforming, let’s address the issues that prevent these students from reaching their academic potential.

MAYFIELD: No response.

5. What role do you think the Indiana General Assembly should play in addressing climate change?

GITHENS: We should encourage the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind. This can be done through grants and enforcement of clean energy standards. In 2015, Monroe County competed in a national contest to reduce energy consumption. The program, conducted by the Monroe County Energy Challenge, was a broad coalition of community organizations that collaborated to reduce energy use. This program could serve as a model to reduce energy consumption, which reduces the production of harmful greenhouse gases. We should encourage the planting of trees to increase absorption of carbon dioxide. This is not being done in our state forests under the current administration. In fact, just the opposite is happening: logging is occurring in state forests without replanting.

MAYFIELD: No response.

6. What should the balance of power be between the state and communities in such matters as environmental protection and gun regulation?

GITHENS: Local entities should have the ability to enact stricter legislation when it comes to issues like environmental protection and gun regulations. Some gun regulations can only be enforced effectively at the state level (e.g., regulations governing gun purchases). Certainly, however, communities should be able to restrict where guns may be carried – we don’t need them at public swimming pools or in parades.

MAYFIELD: No response.

7. What is the influence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on legislation in Indiana and what are the pros and cons of that influence?

GITHENS: Indiana has passed numerous regressive pieces of legislation written by ALEC. In 2011 Indiana passed ALEC-proposed legislation that prohibits local governments from determining what the living wage is. This is deplorable -- the federal minimum wage of $7.25 will not support a single adult anywhere in Indiana. Another example of ALEC legislation is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). There was such an outcry from the business community that a second law was quickly passed, specifying that RFRA does not authorize discrimination. Despite quick passage of this second law, Indianapolis lost an estimated $60 M in tourism and convention business in 2015. Indiana cannot afford such legislation. Pros versus cons? In the case of ALEC it’s all con and no pro.

MAYFIELD: No response.

District 60 candidates Githens, Mayfield have little in common

Peggy and Penny: women with similar first names, mothers of sons, seeking the same state House of Representatives seat.

The two do not have much else in common, though.

Peggy Mayfield, a Republican who lives in Martinsville, was elected in 2012 to represent District 60 in the Indiana House, where she is the assistant majority floor leader. She and her husband own and manage a Mooresville-based insurance agency.

Penny Githens, a Democrat who lives in Bloomington, is seeking political office for the first time. But she is not new to the political process, having fought for and secured health insurance coverage for children with autism under state law. She is a project manager for the Indiana University School of Education.

Both are on the ballot in District 60, which covers portions of Monroe and Morgan counties. The women have different views about current issues facing state lawmakers. When presented with three questions regarding the issues, Githens responded by email within 48 hours and was available for follow-up inquiries.

Mayfield received the questions via email on Sept. 27, and was handed a printed copy of the questions during the Peden Farm Festival in Monroe County two days later. She said the questions — about budget priorities, LGBT rights and local gun legislation — were familiar.

But as of the deadline for this story, she still had not answered them.

On priorities for the next state budget, Githens says education funding should be at the heart of lawmakers’ agendas. “The entire fabric of our state rests on the education of our children,” she said, advocating that money be focused on preschool, mandatory kindergarten and higher teacher salaries.

She also wants the state to take a serious look at its infrastructure. “Indiana has over 1,700 structurally deficient bridges, and our roads, ports, airports, water treatment and sewer systems are aging.”

She supports upgrading broadband internet access in rural areas, “without selling off rights to corporations,” to provide Hoosiers with living-wage jobs.

Mayfield, who was Morgan County clerk from 2007 to 2012, calls herself a “fiscal conservative” on her website and in campaign literature, and prides herself on operating her office under budget when she was county clerk.

Githens favors adding protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to the state’s human rights ordinance. “These individuals pay taxes and are contributing members of society. Beyond that, I oppose all forms of discrimination,” she said, citing a Ball State University study showing 70 percent of Indiana residents agree.

Mayfield did not vote on a measure last session that would have prohibited discrimination against LGBT people under the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. She voted in favor of a measure defining marriage as a legal union between just a man and a woman.

Githens said that when it comes to a citizen’s right to carry firearms, local lawmakers should have a say in the matter. “I believe local communities should be able to decide what gun restrictions they feel are appropriate,” Githens said. “This is not an effort to suppress Second Amendment rights, but to allow local communities, through their elected officials, to make their own decisions.”

Mayfield is a certified rifle and shotgun instructor and skeet competitor who champions the Second Amendment. She is a National Rifle Association member who pays hundreds of dollars beyond the $40 annual dues to be an endowed voting member.

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