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2020 Public Policy Agenda

All Hoosiers should have the opportunity to support their families with jobs that pay adequate wages and allow them to balance work and family. They should have access to safe financial products and meaningful income supports when times are tough. However, unless our policymakers and community & business leaders work to combat bias and establish meaningful labor standards, consumer protections, and work supports, we will continue to see unequal outcomes that keep Hoosiers from achieving their full potential.

To ensure that Hoosier families flourish, the Indiana Institute for Working Families will focus on five building blocks of thriving, inclusive communities as part of its 2020 Policy Agenda:

Throughout this session, you will be invited to take action to help us move these priorities forward. Want to get a head start? Visit our TAKE ACTION page for ideas and be sure to follow us on social media for minute-to-minute updates on what's happening in YOUR legislature.  

2019 Public Policy Agenda

The Status of Working Families in Indiana leaves much to be desired. Even though unemployment is low, too many Hoosiers still struggle to afford the basics such as adequate housing, food, transportation and childcare. Inequality is rising. Indiana is falling behind its neighbor states on measures of well-being. We need to start moving in the right direction.

To set Hoosier families on a path to prosperity, the Indiana Institute for Working Families will focus on five priority areas as part of its ambitious 2019 Legislative Policy Agenda:

  • Stop Predatory Lending: Other states save working families millions by capping interest rates &fees. Indiana should cap payday loans at 36% APR & prevent increases in fees & interest on other financial products.
  • Unlock Early Education: Parents & caregivers want- but struggle to access and afford - high-quality early learning environments for their young children. Indiana should remove restrictions on On-My-Way Pre-K, boost funding, & consider a child care tax credit to put quality care in families' reach.
  • Tranform TANF: Temporary Assistance for Need Families (TANF) was meant to be a lifeline when families struggle, but in Indiana, eligibility & benefits levels have eroded to 16% of the federal poverty level. It's past time to raise eligibility & benefits.
  • Improve Job Quality: Indiana's workforce doesn't look the same as it did in the past, so its policies shouldn't, either. Pregnant women should be provided reasonable accommodations so they can safely stay on the job, & we need paid family leave to build strong families and a strong economy.
  • Increase Earnings: Too many of Indiana's jobs do not pay enough to meet basic needs & support a family. Indiana should raise its minimum wage & increase funding for workforce training programs that connect Hoosiers to higher-paying jobs.

What can we accomplish on the road ahead? That depends on our state lawmakers - and you! Visit our 'Take Action' page to learn what you can do to help set Indiana on the right path forward. 


2018 Public Policy Agenda

While the national recovery has finally resulted in a rising tide in Indiana, 1 in 3 Hoosiers are left anchored underwater economically, swamped by basic costs that are drowning out incremental gains. The Indiana Institute for Working Families’ 2018 policy agenda targets those left out of the recovery and lays out achievable steps to remove the anchors keeping families underwater, ensure there are enough life preservers for those who need them, and provide a propeller to steer Indiana toward economic security and broad prosperity in its third century.


Indiana’s ‘business-friendly’ policy emphasis hasn’t yielded results for middle-class and working families, causing the state to stagnate or even slip behind neighbors on key measures. The past year saw little significant policy change directed to low- and middle-income families, and the data reflect the lack of focus on working families. Compared to other states, Indiana’s poverty ranking worsened four spots last year alone from 26th to 22nd-highest. Racial and gender pay gaps increased, with the gender wage gap jumping from 12th to 6th-highest in 2016 alone. Indiana’s median household income remains stuck at 36th-highest in the nation. And, not surprising given the state’s policy choices, Hoosiers now endure the lowest worker voice and the lowest hourly wages among all of our neighbors.

Fortunately, Indiana has a history of solving problems when our policymakers work as hard for Hoosiers as our families work for each other. Even during a ‘short session’ with no budget updates, the General Assembly can take these specific steps to begin to right the ship for working families:

Remove anchors weighing families down and keeping them underwater.

• PROTECT HOOSIERS FROM PAYDAY LENDING with a rate cap and protection from dangerous new predatory products.

• REQUIRE EMPLOYERS TO PROVIDE REASONABLE PREGNANCY ACCOMMODATIONS so women don’t have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and a paycheck.

Ensure there are enough life preservers for those who need them.

• REFORM TANF’S ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES AND BENEFIT LEVELS so that their values cease to erode and are indexed to inflation moving forward.

• ELIMINATE THE LIFETIME BAN ON SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) for people who have served their time for drug felonies.

Provide Hoosiers with the propeller we need to steer us toward economic security and broad prosperity.

• IMPROVE ON MY WAY PRE-K BY REMOVING ‘SERVICE NEED’ RED TAPE so more kids can participate in pre-K to learn & thrive.

• SUPPORT INDIANA’S WORKFORCE by removing non-academic barriers to adult student completion, boosting adult literacy, and adding a work-sharing program.


Sign up for updates and action alerts, and follow the Institute’s ‘Inside the Statehouse’ blog series to keep up with the General Assembly’s progress in implementing these steps. Our team will be at the Statehouse bringing data and policy solutions to lawmakers in one-on-one meetings and public hearings. Please consider donating to help amplify our advocacy for working Hoosier families at the Statehouse throughout 2018.


Download the 2018 agenda


2017 Public Policy Agenda

More than 1 in 3 Hoosiers continue to live below economic self-sufficiency despite unemployment rates that have steadily declined since the recession. So while Hoosiers are working (even if still not at pre-recession rates), over a third can't afford basic needs such as adequate housing, food, transportation and childcare. To tackle this persistent problem, the Indiana Institute for Working Families has released its 2017 Legislative Policy Agenda with six 'missing pieces' to help fill the gaps in Indiana's economy for working Hoosier families.

Our new Governor Eric Holcomb grasped the impact of these 'missing pieces' in his inauguration speech when he said "Too many Hoosiers and their families feel they’ve been left out or are in danger of being left behind. Too many are not participating in today’s economy or getting a quality education." That feeling of being left behind is backed up by the data: without policies specifically tailored for working families, Indiana will continue to fall behind our neighbors in the rankings, including a downward trend in median household income rankings (from #34 to #36), and an upward trend in child poverty rankings (from 23rd to 21st highest) over the past year alone. Our state has done a great job fostering a 'business friendly' climate with direct policy attention, and wouldn't tolerate letting that climate go to chance. The time has come for Indiana to stop being complacent to the status of working families and consigning their fates to a byproduct of our business climate. Indiana and its economy will not move "to the next level’ without giving policies for working families the same pioneering spirit and innovation that has inspired the state's first two centuries.


To that end, this agenda of six 'missing policy pieces' will help Hoosier families protect assets, build skills and opportunities, and move up the path towards self-sufficiency. Filling these missing pieces will also help Indiana put together strategies to build better-paying, higher-quality jobs and equitable budget choices for a more just Indiana economy that works for all Hoosier families. All recommendations on the 2017 Policy Agenda are based on the culmination of the Institute’s analysis of research, data and national best practice models, aimed at doing things the Indiana way with innovation and a pioneering spirit. These "missing pieces" include:


  • A PATH TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY: Put families on a path to self-sufficiency by protecting them from high-cost payday loans and predatory lending products. Support asset-building and financial literacy training by increasing funding for individual development accounts (IDAs). 
  • INVESTMENT IN TWO-GENERATION SOLUTIONS: Investments in Head Start, preschool and the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) ensure that young children continue to learn and grow while their parents work or seek further education.
  • REMOVE BARRIERS TO ADULT EDUCATION & WORKFORCE TRAINING: Allow for better coordination of skills training, higher education and necessary support services. Increase support for the Indiana Adult Student Grant and the WorkINdiana training program, and create Indiana’s first fund for job-driven adult literacy.
  • ASSETS & REBOUNDS: Help Hoosiers rebound more quickly from tough times by removing the asset test from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility requirements and raising Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) eligibility to 50 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • QUALITY OF LIFE & QUALITY OF WORK: Ensure that all working Hoosiers can balance work, family and household budgets through policies that promote fair scheduling, paid leave and high-quality, well-paying jobs. 
  • BUILD A MORE JUST HOOSIER ECONOMY, STARTING WITH EQUITABLE BUDGET CHOICES: Make equitable budget choices that remedy Indiana’s regressive tax structure, increase economic mobility for working families and promote a more just economy for all Hoosiers.

Download the 2017 agenda

How the Institute Sets Its Public Policy Agenda