Stay ahead of the curve as a political insider with deep policy analysis, daily briefings and policy-shaping tools.Request a Demo
Indiana’s state-funded pre-K is expanding, but there are still significant barriers to access.
- At least 36 other states provided state-funded pre-K for a higher percentage of 4-year-olds in the 2021-2022 school year.
- Three quarters of Indiana’s counties are only able to serve at best half of the children who need early child care or education due to capacity shortages.
- At least 10 counties do not have a provider that accepts children using state preschool grants listed on the state’s child care-finder portal.
As students start pre-K this month, a family of four making $45,000 or less per year will be able to access free, state-funded preschool.
That means an average family down in Crawford County likely would qualify. The 10,000-person southern Indiana county has a median household income of less than $43,000 — almost $20,000 lower than the state’s median — and below the eligibility requirement for the program.
But, no preschool provider in Crawford County is considered high quality enough to accept those state dollars for pre-K.
Most parents will either have to dish out thousands of dollars for child care themselves, keep their child at home or spend valuable time traveling to a different county.
“Some of our kiddos might still be coming if half their bill had been paid, and yet we’re in a predicament, too, because we’re barely making ends meet,” said Kim Grizzel, executive director of the the Boys & Girls Club of Harrison-Crawford Counties. “We have to have them pay their bills because we have to pay our employees, so it’s a hard spot to be in.”
Whatsmore, even if a family can afford the costs of early child care or pre-K without a state grant, a report from Early Learning Indiana shows the county only has enough early learning and care capacity for roughly one in six children living there.
Crawford County illustrates the problems that still plague the On My Way Pre-K state grant program in it's ninth year, even as advocates are praising state lawmakers for what they view as major advancements in the early education space during the most recent legislative session. Lawmakers raised the household income eligibility from $38,000 to $45,000 for a family of four with a 4-year-old child, or 150% of the federal poverty rate. Enrollment for the 2023-2024 school year has already surpassed that of 2022-2023.
Children who participate in On My Way Pre-K have better language and literacy skills and are more ready for kindergarten than their peers from similar financial backgrounds, a report from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) shows.
But most Indiana children will never benefit directly from the state-funded program. Indiana’s state-funded pre-K program still serves a smaller percentage of children than a majority of other states, which contributes to a broader affordability problem in the state. Last school year 16 counties had two children or fewer use a grant for state-funded pre-K, and State Affairs counted at least 10 counties with no providers who qualify to accept grant-funded children listed on the state’s child care-finder portal.
There’s also a shortage of quality early child care providers and seats throughout Indiana, meaning even if someone can afford pre-K, in some counties there’s a waitlist. In fact, when CNBC ranked Indiana as one of the 10 worst states to live and work last month, the news organization attributed the ranking largely to a lack of licensed child care facilities.
While the Republican-dominated Indiana Legislature has grown more open to the idea of state-funded pre-K over the years, they’re still not rushing to offer it to anyone but the poorest Hoosiers, even as leaders lament the need to fix some of Indiana’s dismal educational outcomes.
The result: Where you live and how much you make still dictates what kind of access your child has to quality pre-K and in part their educational outcomes. The benefits of access to quality pre-K can also extend to the whole society, advocates say.
“By investing in children, we’re also investing in the adults in their life … enabling mom and dad or grandma or grandpa, whoever their adult caregiver is, to have opportunities to work productively or to attend higher education or other kinds of training opportunities,” said Sam Snideman, vice president of government relations for United Way of Central Indiana. “We’ve put adult and child on the path toward hopefully a higher level of economic stability and security.”
Shifting mindset on pre-K
Part of the challenges to a quality pre-K system stem from a lack of political will among lawmakers to allocate more money in the budget each year toward pre-K grants. Some conservatives are leery of most universal programs amid concern about ballooning costs of government welfare initiatives.
Whatsmore, in the budget making process, there’s no shortage of groups asking for more state dollars, and there’s only so much to go around. In the House, Republicans often prefer to leave a large enough cushion to cut certain taxes. They’ve also focused on expanding the K-12 school choice voucher program so that a family making up to $220,000 can receive state dollars to send their child to a K-12 private school or another school of their choice. Across the aisle, Senate Republicans are more focused on paying down debt to free up money in future years.
Still, leaders in both chambers and Gov. Eric Holcomb included at least some expansion of eligibility in their proposed statewide budgets this past legislative session with little resistance.
That in itself signals a shift over the last decade. When then-Gov. Mike Pence signed Indiana’s On My Way Pre-K pilot program into law in 2014, the concept of state-paid preschool was more controversial in Indiana. The final version of the program that became law only served a handful of counties as a pilot program, but even then it almost didn’t cross the finish line due to skepticism among Republican lawmakers. Since then, the program has grown and is now available to providers across the entire state.
Even so, Republicans on the Senate Appropriations committee voted against an amendment to the budget during the legislative session to expand pre-K eligibility to 400% of the federal poverty line — closer to the level that the state’s K-12 school choice voucher system was expanded to. Only Sen. Chris Garten, R-Charlestown, explained his no vote, saying there was a “math issue within the budget.”
Other Republicans have indicated a desire to keep the program more focused.
“Our goal is to reach more low-income families and continue to grow the number of quality providers across the state,” Republican Rep. Bob Behning, chair of the House Education Committee, said in a statement.
Richmond Republican Sen. Jeff Raatz, the chair of the Senate education committee, said there’s still too many outstanding questions to entertain a complete expansion of the program right now. For example, FSSA isn’t using up all of the money budgeted for the program each year, a problem that may be at least partially remedied by the expansion of eligibility lawmakers just approved.
He’d like to determine why the program is not more popular. FSSA told State Affairs it doesn’t track how many students should qualify for the program and just don’t take advantage of it.
After that, it comes down to voters and what’s fiscally realistic, Raatz said.
“Does the citizenry of the state that have children want it; and two, does the state have the resources that we can red-line for this endeavor?” Raatz asked. “That’s a future conversation.”
The affordability problem
Other states are able to increase early education affordability at least in-part by dedicating more state resources to pre-K. At least 36 other states served a higher percentage of 4-year-olds in the 2021-2022 school year, based on data from both the state and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).
In 2022-2023, a little over 7% of Indiana’s 4-year-olds were enrolled in On My Way Pre-K, meaning Indiana likely won’t advance much in the rankings.
It’s not just liberal states that are offering universal pre-K to those who want to participate. Florida and Oklahoma, two now ruby-red states where Republicans control both chambers, topped the list, both providing pre-K for more than 65% of their 4-year-olds during the 2021-2022 school year. Oklahoma specifically, a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since the 1960s, is seen as a model, having tucked its pre-K funding into its K-12 funding formula.
Indiana differs from a majority of other states in other ways too: Indiana only offers grants to 4-year-olds and eligibility hinges on a child’s guardian working, going to school or actively searching for a job.
Of course, the limited eligibility isn’t the only reason why Indiana’s participant count has been low. FSSA says it’s challenging to get people to complete their applications, and in some counties there just aren’t enough high-quality options. COVID-19 also likely impacted demand, a spokesperson for FSSA said.
With fewer grants in use, that makes Indiana’s pre-K less affordable overall. In 2021, families on average likely spent around 15% of their gross annual income on preschool or other early care for one child, according to Early Learning Indiana.
Once again, how much of a person’s salary is spent on child care differs by county, with someone in Madison County spending more than 16% compared to just under 6% in Union County.
Snideman suggested that even expanding the eligibility requirement to include those making up to 185% of the federal poverty rate would open doors, but keeps Indiana far from a more controversial universal program.
“Many low income and working class families aren’t able to find affordable child care options,” Snideman said. “By putting more money into the system, putting more money in the hands of families, you’re able to empower them to access opportunities that middle and upper income families have always been able to access.”
A shortage of early child care providers also strains Indiana’s efforts to get the state’s youngest residents a good start to their educational journey. It’s perhaps a less controversial problem, but one that is more challenging to solve.
Early Learning Indiana estimates that four out of every 10 young Hoosier children don’t have a preschool or early child care seat in Indiana, and only a little more than a quarter of children can be served by a high-quality early learning opportunity.
And that may be a rosier picture than reality. Those numbers are based on how many seats a child care facility is licensed for, not how many they actually can teach based on their current employee count.
Actual capacity is more limited, exacerbated by challenges attracting and retaining employees.
Half of center-based providers and one fifth of home-based providers who responded to a November 2021 survey from Early Learning Indiana said they had to reduce their capacity due to workforce problems. That accounted for a loss of 7,700 seats.
In reality, that means roughly three quarters of Indiana’s counties likely are only able to serve at best half of the children who need some sort of early child care.
“It very much depends community by community,” said Maureen Weber, Early Learning Indiana president and CEO, “and if you look holistically across the state, we might have sufficient access but that doesn’t mean that an individual in a rural community can go access the seat that he or she wants.”
In Crawford County, the Boys & Girls Club is short six staff members. Grizzel also said workforce dilemmas mean she can’t hire the number of credentialed employees she would need to qualify for the state pre-K dollars.
“We don’t have that kind of pool of people around here,” Grizzel said.
Early Learning Indiana, which also provides preschool, toddler and infant care for about 1,200 children in Tippecanoe and Marion counties, had to reduce its seats by 20% due to a staff shortage. That’s the reality of an economic climate with low unemployment rates, Weber said. People can choose to work at Amazon or FedEx where the wages are more competitive.
Snideman emphasized that if an organization with more resources such as Early Learning Indiana is struggling with attracting talent, it doesn’t bode well for the rest of the system.
“Our interests in balancing access and affordability can’t come at the expense of the workforce that supports the whole system,” Snideman said. “It’s really difficult to incentivize anyone to work in a child care center for $9 an hour, and in order to keep costs relatively low for families, if you’re a provider you don’t have a lot of choice on where you can find savings to keep your price point affordable.”
Advocates also have concerns about the pending cliff of federal COVID-19 dollars. The state allocated some American Rescue Plan dollars to child care providers directly, which in turn helped pay for personnel and other costs. That money won’t exist forever.
Child care advocates are focused on expanding pre-K access, but they also acknowledge that many of the shortages are often more severe for infant and toddler care. Each child needs a crib, and the required teacher-to-child ratio is larger for young children.
Early Learning Indiana has hundreds of families on its waitlist for young children. In some cases families age out of infant care before even making it off the waitlist.
“It is a crisis in many communities for infant and toddler care,” Weber said. “If [early child care providers] can’t figure out our challenge, the rest of the state will have a very hard time coming up with the workforce that it needs to carry out whatever its activities are.”
The rest of the child care puzzle
Indiana lawmakers have invested in child care in the past year, aside from just expanding the pre-K eligibility requirements. In the second year of the two-year state budget, they added $5 million to On My Way Pre-K. Snideman called it the “most impactful session” on pre-K since the program was created.
“It certainly doesn’t serve all of the unmet needs that our partners at Early Learning Indiana have identified,” Snideman said, “but it does go a long way toward making sure that more kids in our state have access to a good quality educational experience.”
According to the FSSA, 11,000 more Hoosiers children will now be able to access child care assistance, either through On My Way Pre-K or through the federal Child Care and Development Fund, which uses the same eligibility requirements as On My Way Pre-K.
Plus, Holcomb requested $25 million in the state budget this year to provide incentives to employers to expand child care for their employees. And, the state will be doling out $10 million worth of one-time federal and state dollars to those providers seeking to expand their high-quality early education offerings.
“We have further room for growth when you compare us to other states,” Weber said, “but we’re heading in the right direction.”
How to apply for On My Way Pre-K
To apply for On My Way Pre-K, go to https://earlyedconnect.fssa.in.gov/onlineApp/home.
Indiana is probably the type of state that the Environmental Protection Agency had in mind when it proposed a new set of rules that target fossil fuel-fired power plants.
Not only is the state still reliant on fossil fuels for most electricity — more than two-thirds is generated by coal (47%) and gas (29%), data show — Indiana has some of the worst air quality and is one of the most polluted states in the country. The primary focus of the new EPA rules, though, is an attempt to significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released by those plants. Fossil fuel-fired power plants are responsible for about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to the EPA, and for about a third of the nation’s carbon dioxide emissions that are heating the planet.
Yet while Indiana has been slow to adopt renewable energy sources, the pace of the state’s transition away from fossil fuels has been picking up steam in recent years.
But not fast enough for the EPA.
President Joe Biden’s aggressive climate agenda would require states like Indiana to hasten their energy transitions considerably. The draft power plant rules, released in May, would broadly require utility companies to cut their dependence on coal and gas, and to adopt emerging technologies that would enable the use of carbon storage and hydrogen.
Now Indiana government leaders and electric utility companies are raising concerns. They say the plans would force Indiana power plants to retire early, which could substantially increase the cost of electricity for Hoosiers while risking the reliability of the electric grid. And they say the technology cited by the EPA is not ready for widespread adoption.
“For carbon capture, while this is a technology that the state is invested in, it is not yet at the scale needed to accommodate all the utilities in the state,” Brian C. Rockensuess, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, told lawmakers during a committee meeting this month.
Environmental advocates, however, are characterizing the concerns as overblown. They point to two federal bills — the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — that contain grants and incentives for power plants to transition away from coal and gas. And they say the power industry always raises concerns about any new regulations but always finds a way to comply.
“They are like the boy who cried wolf,” said David Doniger, a former EPA official and current senior strategic director at the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council. “If you look at the track record, they say this every time and then, if the regulations are in fact adopted, the compliance goes smoothly.”
Indiana agency head raises concerns
Rockensuess voiced his concerns about the new EPA rules to Indiana lawmakers during an Interim Study Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications meeting this month.
He didn’t dive into the pros and cons of the environmental impacts; rather, he focused on the difficulty for policymakers and regulators in Indiana who will be tasked with enforcing the final rules adopted by the federal government.
Among the difficulties, he said, are requirements for some power plants to use hydrogen to generate electricity or rely on carbon capture and storage to reduce emissions. Both technologies, he said, are not ready for wide use, yet the federal government would require Indiana to explain how the state would implement the new federal rules within 24 months.
“Bottom line is they are asking for a lot in too short of a time,” he said. “Indiana and other states are being set up to run afoul of that timeframe from the start.”
Those concerns were echoed in a joint letter sent to the EPA by his department, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor.
The study committee also featured an out-of-state speaker who shared fiery testimony in opposition to the EPA proposal. By the end of the presentation, Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, questioned whether the Republican leaders considered inviting anyone with a different viewpoint.
“I was just kind of curious as to whether the chairman attempted to invite testimony from anyone in support of the rules, such as the Clean Air Task Force or the Natural Resources Defense Council, people along those lines?” Piece asked.
Committee chair Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, said that such viewpoints were already well-known because of the EPA’s plans, but he would consider Pierce’s request if lawmakers take up legislation on the matter when the legislative session begins in January.
Koch, who also leads the Senate utilities committee, later confirmed to State Affairs that he was unsure what actions the Indiana General Assembly might take in response to the federal rule, but he does not plan to file legislation this year.
The chair for the House utilities committee — Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso — told State Affairs he did not yet know if he would file anything.
Environmental advocates push back
While they were not invited to speak at the public meeting, many environmental advocates in Indiana are supportive of the president’s efforts to curb carbon emissions.
“Probably what you didn’t hear in the testimony at the Statehouse was the cost of mitigating and addressing issues related to climate change. And you probably didn’t hear the effects of air pollution and how that contributes to asthma and other diseases,” said Sam Carpenter, executive director of the nonprofit Hoosier Environmental Council. “In the big picture, all those things need to be considered.”
The Biden administration estimates up to $85 billion in environmental and public health benefits over the next 20 years.
Indiana once relied almost exclusively on coal for electricity. And while the state continues to be a top-five consumer of coal for electricity, the major utility companies have started shifting away from coal in recent years. They’ve largely replaced that fuel source, though, not with renewables but with natural gas. That’s because gas is relatively affordable, and it easily enables utility companies to both meet the daily electricity demands but also rapidly ramp up production during cold snaps and heat waves.
Some utilities are seeking state approval to build new gas plants even now. Indiana customers will be on the hook for whatever is constructed now — such as a gas plant — even if those plants are rarely used or even shut down because of federal regulations. And then Hoosiers will also have to pay for whatever the utility companies build next.
“This continued investment into fossil fuels is going to be a stranded investment,” Carpenter said. “Down the road that’s not going to be paying off. That’s just a bad path to take.”
If enacted, the new EPA rules are sure to draw litigation from Republican officials.
Attorney General Todd Rokita has already promised Indiana’s involvement: “Fortunately, the courts will almost certainly strike down these new EPA mandates — and on behalf of Hoosiers, I’ll do everything in my power to ensure that happens,” Rokita said in a statement about the proposed rules.
His comments align with those made by Indiana’s major utility companies. They accuse the EPA of overstepping — arguments that were at the center of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2021 that said the EPA lacked the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon emissions.
Others aren’t as confident as Rokita and utility companies.
Rockensuess, the state environmental management department commissioner, noted in his testimony that the EPA does have the authority because of new language contained in the Inflation Reduction Act, which Congress passed after the Supreme Court decision.
“It clarified and granted them the authority to regulate greenhouse gasses,” Rockensuess told lawmakers.
Rockensuess said he expected to see the final EPA rule by next May.
Header image: A row of solar panels sits outside AES Indiana’s Harding Street power plant. (Credit: Ryan Martin)
Republican gubernatorial candidate Eric Doden is calling on the Indiana Chamber of Commerce to end its support for school district consolidation in rural Indiana. In a letter sent today, the Fort Wayne businessman labeled the business group’s position as “damaging.” (Design: Brittney Phan) “While the stated aims of this position are laudable, the message sent …
The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission today filed a formal complaint against state Attorney General Todd Rokita that alleges three violations of attorney professional conduct rules.
Rokita faces official allegations that he committed professional misconduct with his public comments about Dr. Caitlin Bernard after she provided an abortion to a 10-year-old Ohio rape victim last summer.
Rokita is defending his actions, saying that state confidentiality laws shouldn’t apply to him because Bernard was the first to talk in the news media about the girl’s treatment. It could take months before the state Supreme Court decides whether Rokita will face any punishment.
The commission didn’t ask for a specific punishment against Rokita, asking simply that he be “disciplined as warranted for professional misconduct” by the state Supreme Court.
Commission Executive Director Adrienne Meiring filed the complaint that focuses on actions by Rokita and his office between early July 2022 and Nov. 30, 2022, when the attorney general’s office filed a misconduct complaint against Bernard with the state Medical Licensing Board.
Bernard drew national attention in the days after a July 1, 2022, story by The Indianapolis Star quoting her about the young girl’s abortion just days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The complaint against Rokita highlights his July 13 appearance on a Fox News program, during which he said he would investigate Bernard’s actions and called her an “abortion activist acting as a doctor — with a history of failing to report.”
It also points to his office’s unusual action of publicly releasing on July 13 a letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb that named Bernard in seeking records from two state agencies and a July 14 press release from his office about the investigation.
The complaint alleges Rokita’s actions violated confidentiality requirements of pending medical licensing investigations under state law and by doing so Rokita “caused irreparable harm to Dr. Bernard’s reputational and professional image.”
Rokita responded Monday with a legal filing saying that the confidentiality requirements shouldn’t apply to him because Bernard had already gone public about the girl’s medical treatment.
Rokita also argued that “The Attorney General, an elected official who answers to the public, has a duty to keep the public informed of the Office’s actions and decisions.”
The state Medical Licensing Board voted 5-1 in May to reprimand Bernard and fine her $3,000 for violating patient privacy laws. The board, however, voted unanimously to reject allegations from the attorney general’s office that Bernard violated state law by not reporting the child abuse that led to the girl’s pregnancy to Indiana authorities and did not issue any restrictions on Bernard’s medical license.
Why It Matters
The Disciplinary Commission’s complaint carries the potential of forcing the Republican attorney general from office.
State law requires that the attorney general be “duly licensed to practice law in Indiana.” The state Supreme Court, which has the final say over attorney disciplinary matters, has wide discretion, with options all the way up to permanently stripping an attorney of his law license.
Rokita won the Republican nomination for attorney general in 2020 over then-Attorney General Curtis Hill after Hill faced allegations that he drunkenly groped four women at a party celebrating the end of the 2018 legislative session.
The Supreme Court suspended Hill’s law license for 30 days, saying that “by clear and convincing evidence that [Hill] committed the criminal act of battery.” The court rejected the hearing officer’s recommendation of a longer suspension that could have forced him from office. Hill is now seeking the Republican 2024 nomination for governor.
Rokita has sought to burnish his anti-abortion and national profile with the Bernard case. Besides challenging Bernard’s medical license, his office last week filed a lawsuit against the doctor’s employer, Indiana University Health, alleging it violated federal law by allowing Bernard to disclose information about the Ohio girl’s treatment. The girl’s mother brought her to Indiana to receive abortion drugs because an Ohio ban on abortions after six weeks had taken effect after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last summer.
Rokita is entitled to defend himself with a hearing before a judicial officer appointed by the Supreme Court, who would then submit a recommended punishment to the court.
In Hill’s case, it took about 14 months from the time that the disciplinary complaint was filed against him for the court’s five justices to receive the case and make their decision.
Rokita’s defense lawyers include two from the Washington, D.C., firm Schaerr-Jaffe. The firm also assisted the attorney general’s office with the case against Bernard under a contract allowing it to bill the state $550 an hour for work by the firm’s attorneys.
“This is a complaint against the official duties of the Attorney General and is an attack against his official capacity, so this is paid by the office,” Rokita’s office said.
Rokita isn’t backing down in the political battle, either, as he released a statement Monday calling himself “a passionate fighter” who “is beating back the culture of death, grievance and transanity being pushed by radicals in workplaces, schools, media and government.”
Democrats argue Rokita is using the Bernard case “to further his own personal political ambitions.”
“Todd Rokita’s actions toward Dr. Caitlin Bernard over the past year brought shame and ridicule upon our state,” Indiana Democratic Chairman Mike Schmuhl said in a statement. “Now, he is starting to see the consequences of making baseless claims regarding a medical professional on national television.”
Check out our summary on TikTok:
Header image: Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita speaks during the America First Agenda Summit organized by America First Policy Institute. (Photo by Oliver Contreras/SIPA USA)(Sipa via AP Images)
Republican Sen. Jon Ford of Terre Haute confirmed Friday that he is resigning from the Legislature to become leader of an association that promotes the coal industry and other fossil fuel producers in Indiana.
Ford told State Affairs that he will join Reliable Energy this fall after his Senate resignation takes effect Oct. 16.
“I’ll be running the association, the business side of it,” said Ford, who faces a one-year prohibition on being a paid lobbyist after leaving the Legislature.
What is Reliable Energy?
Reliable Energy was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation by prominent lobbyist Matt Bell in 2020 with the same downtown Indianapolis address as his Catalyst Public Affairs Group.
In testimony to a legislative committee last year, Bell described the group’s members as “fossil fuel producers and the Hoosier businesses supporting the fossil fuel industry.”
“Reliable Energy advocates for policies that ensure an abundant supply of available, affordable and dependable energy in Indiana and across the country,” Bell’s testimony said.
The organization is an offshoot of the Indiana Coal Council.
“I think it really grew out of that group and is really a group made up of membership of people involved in energy in a lot of different ways,” Ford said. “Many of the members are vertically integrated power companies. Some produce coal, some produce energy. Most are involved in alternative energies, as well.”
Ford’s reasons for resignation?
Ford, who was first elected to the Senate in 2014, won reelection last November to a four-year term. His resignation will result in a new senator serving for three legislative sessions without appearing on a general election ballot.
Ford cited personal reasons for deciding to resign less than a year after winning his new Senate term.
“Some things in my life have changed that made me think, you know, the passing of friends and other life events made me rethink what I wanted to do in my life and what I had achieved in the district,” Ford said. “I just felt it was time to move on.”
Ford said the Reliable Energy position didn’t prompt his Senate resignation.
“The job really came after the decision that it was time to move on,” he said.
Ford hasn’t specialized in energy-related issues while in the Legislature and hasn’t been a member of the utilities or environmental committees that consider most such legislation.
Ford has been business development director for the economic and community development group Thrive West Central, based in Terre Haute.
Will Ford become a lobbyist?
State law prohibits members of the General Assembly from lobbying former colleagues for one year after leaving office.
Ford said that even after that time he was not sure he would become an advocate for Reliable Energy in the Statehouse hallways.
“This group has had a hired lobbyist for a while that’s worked with them, so I don’t know,” Ford said. “I would see it playing a similar role to many other associations that are out there, but, you know, main focus will be to grow it and to focus on where Indiana goes forward with energy.”
Involvement in selecting replacement?
Ford was noncommittal on whether he would endorse a candidate to replace him ahead of the caucus of Republican precinct committee leaders who will make that decision in the coming weeks.
“I don’t know at this time, it really depends, I guess, on who steps up,” Ford said. “I don’t foresee myself being at the vote, to be quite honest. I think it’s a decision of the precinct committeemen.”
Check out our TikTok summary:
Header image: Republican Sen. Jon Ford speaks in the Indiana Senate chamber. (Credit: Indiana Senate Republicans)