Former U.S. Congressman and Seymour native Baron Hill and Indiana District 40 Sen. Shelli Yoder discussed the American Rescue Plan during a recent stop at Larrison’s Diner in Seymour.
Wednesday’s visit to Seymour was part of the Indiana Democratic Party’s American Rescue Plan Tour. It was organized to explain how the plan has been contributing to all of Indiana’s 92 counties, according to a news release.
The plan is a $1.9 trillion relief package signed March 11 by President Joe Biden and was intended to provide financial aid and economic resurgence as the country recovers from the global pandemic.
Adam Dickey, the chairman for Indiana District 9’s Democratic Party, introduced Yoder and Hill.
He read local statistics about what relief has been distributed locally. Jackson County received $8.58 million in funding, Seymour received $4.16 million, and $8.6 million was given to the county schools.
“We’re seeing an infusion of cash to help recover from this pandemic to do good projects,” Dickey said.
Yoder, who lives in Bloomington, discussed her first year representing District 40.
She said the session was a challenge because of safety precautions related to the prevention of COVID-19 spread. Everyone was socially distanced and she rarely saw many of her colleagues face-to-face.
While she said it was a challenge to work in the Senate under unique circumstances, she said it wasn’t challenging compared to what Hoosiers have had to face during the pandemic.
“Nothing compared to the challenge that Hoosiers have had to endure throughout the last 18 to 16 months of this pandemic,” she said. “Nothing compares to the loss and the grief that we are feeling, not only losing loved ones, but losing out in rituals whether those are marriages or graduations.”
Yoder praised the American Rescue Plan for the funding that was provided for public education. She said that public schools are receiving revenue lost because of the Great Recession.
“We are going to see an investment in our community schools that we have not seen for decades,” she said.
In supporting schools, Yoder said businesses are also supported because they need “educated citizenry.”
Hill said 70% of Americans are in favor of the American Rescue Plan, including 41% of Republicans. He said only 55% of rural Americans even know the details of the plan.
For broadband expansion to rural areas, Hill said Indiana is receiving $250 million.
“It is mind-boggling to believe that there are people that still don’t have access to the internet,” he said.
In response to complaints about the American Rescue Plan that people aren’t working because of stimulus money, he said people aren’t going to work because they can’t afford child care, and the plan provides support for families.
Hill said infrastructure is a bipartisan issue and 5,400 miles of highways will be invested through the plan and 1,100 new bridges will be built.
Speaking to The Tribune after the meeting, Hill said he specifically requested to speak in Seymour as a part of the tour since it is his hometown and he thought the community needed to hear his message about the American Rescue Plan.
In response to some local government officials who expressed concerns Jackson County is receiving too much money in relief funding, Hill said it’s not too much money.
“There are needs here in Jackson County,” he said. “I’m sure there are roads and bridges that need to be rebuilt here. There’s always a need for that. That never goes away. This money could be put to good use. It’s well spent money.”
He said elected officials are not being realistic to the people they represent to say the county is receiving too much money.
Because there was lost revenue for businesses and state departments due to the pandemic, Hill said the money provided through the plan is meant to replace that.