Indiana's budget and government waste were the main topics of conversation at Clay County's second Crackerbarrel session with state legislators Saturday.
The Crackerbarrel, co-sponsored by Clay County Chamber of Commerce and Clay County Farm Bureau, drew a crowd of about 35 citizens, but only three area legislators. State Sen. John Waterman and Representatives Andy Thomas and Brooks LaPlante each had an opportunity to voice their opinions before taking questions and comments. State Sen. Richard Bray and Rep. Clyde Kersey were not in attendance.
Several topics were addressed by the audience:
"I'm here to talk about government waste. Public hearings conducted by INDOT concerning the construction of (U.S.) 40 and (SR) 340 were a waste of taxpayers dollars. Ninety percent of the citizens oppose re-construction of the area, yet INDOT is going to go through with a $1.4 million project. Better lighting of the area could solve the problem with a lot less cost," Joe Redenbarger said.
Garry Wolfe had two major concerns.
"Prisoners get free education, but prison guards can't qualify for education grants. I don't think it's fair that these criminals get a free ride while I have to pay full cost for my children's education. They (prisoners) should have to pay, one way or another, for their education the same as everyone else. Also, I don't understand the job training grants for creation of new jobs. I haven't seen a dime of it. Is it just for those people trying to get off the welfare system? Don't discriminate against the working poor," Wolfe said.
Terry Barr, Clay Community Schools Board Trustee, asked about the state's education budget.
"You say Clay Community Schools will receive a 1.8 percent increase and that the education budget won't get cut. But if we need a 3 percent increase to maintain where we are now, it sure seems like a cut to me," she said.
Putnam County citizen, Clinton McKinney, traveled to the Crackerbarrel to speak about his perception of government corruption at the Indiana State Farm.
"The State Farm is not being used for it's original intent anymore. Prisoners used to farm the land for their vegetables and meat. Now the land is being leased to other farmers. Nobody seems to know how much it's being rented for. And the homes on the land for guard use are only $35 a month with no utility costs. Not only that, but there are trailers on the property. It's time to investigate this corruption," he said.
Tomorrow: Legislators address the Crackerbarrel.