School funding is a big issue in races for the Indiana General Assembly. In fact, it’s the biggest issue in key battles that could determine if the GOP maintains a super majority in the Indiana House.
Democrats had success two years ago when teachers and other educators mobilized to support state School Superintendent Glenda Ritz when she upset Republican Tony Bennett.
That led the Democrats to recruit more educators to become candidates this year.
Rep. Matt Ubelhor, a second term Republican lawmaker from Bloomfield, is one of the Democratic targets and the top issue in his race is school funding.
“All the school districts in his legislative district have seen a decrease,” said State Democratic Chairman John Zody, “save one.”
“Matt Ubelhor. Not for our public schools,” blares a negative TV ad on Indianapolis television, even though it reaches only a fraction of Ubelhor’s southern Indiana district.
Ubelhor has responded with personal attacks on his opponent, school administrator Jeff Sparks. “Jeff Sparks. Plain dishonest,” says the announcer in a Ubelhor commercial.
But just over two weeks ago, GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma indicated that Republicans are vulnerable on school funding,”It impacts every legislator, every legislator’s home schools,” he said.
Bosma announced that education increases will be a Republican priority in 2015. “The first is to invest significantly,” he said, “and, from my perspective, more than we have in the last session in public school funding.”
The pre-election announcement was a direct response to what the Democrats are doing.
“We’ve got over a dozen public educators running for the General Assembly all over the state,” said Zody. “We’re seeing where either schools have been closed or funding’s been decreased and, so, people identify with school districts.”
And they pay attention to negative ads.
The Democrats need to gain 3 seats to take away the super majority.