RELEASE: City-County Council to Introduce Resolution against SEA 101 Monday

March 27, 2015

City-County Council: All are welcome, RFRA hurts our City

Resolution against SEA 101 to be introduced Monday

 Indianapolis – Members of the Indianapolis City-County Council will introduce a resolution on Monday opposing the recent passage of SEA 101 which many view an opening the door to discrimination and possible economic consequences for Marion County.

“The City of Indianapolis is a welcoming place that values all its citizens – SEA 101 does not reflect the diversity of our great city,” said Council President Maggie Lewis.

The resolution, Proposal 120, will be introduced at Monday’s City-County Council meeting. Proposal 120 opposes the Indiana General Assembly’s passage of Senate Enrolled Act 101, also known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and encourages State legislators to amend the Civil Rights section of the Indiana Code to include sexual orientation and to uphold and protect local anti-discrimination ordinances by exempting them from SEA 101.

Council Vice President John Barth said “The encouraging news is that local business leaders, community groups, elected officials, and Indianapolis residents are expressing their concern about RFRA and affirming that what makes our city great is the diversity of our people and our welcoming hospitality.”

The resolution reiterates what Council ordinances have already made clear: Indianapolis welcomes people of any sexual orientation, race, gender identification, ethnicity, religion, or creed.

A copy of the resolution can be viewed at the Council’s webpage:




March 2, 2015


Denise Herd, Herd Strategies
p: 317-796-0514


INDIANAPOLIS – Tonight the Indianapolis City-County Council passed Proposal 42, investing more than $4 million to provide a high-quality pre-K education for more than 1,000 students from some of the city’s neediest families. The money will be used to provide scholarships to attend highly-rated pre-K programs.

Approval of the Preschool Scholarship Program funding proposal allows the city to leverage $4.4 million already raised from the corporate community.

Council President Maggie A. Lewis and Vice President John Barth released this joint statement:
“We are proud of the action taken by council tonight and of the true community effort that helped launch this program. Making quality pre-K available to students who need it most will level the playing field and help them start school ready to learn and be high achievers. We look forward to building a successful program.”


Council Vice President Barth’s Statement on Pre-K Funding Proposal Passing Committee Tonight

February 11, 2015

Council Vice President Barth’s Statement on Pre-K Funding Proposal Passing Committee Tonight

“Tonight’s vote in the Council’s Community Affairs and Education Committee to pass Proposal 46 to fund the Indianapolis Pre-K Program is an example of how government works best. Both Democrats and Republicans set aside politics and focused on a shared priority – putting our city’s kids first. Making high-quality pre-K available for kids in the lowest income families can yield life-long advantages. I look forward to a final vote on the pre-k funding proposal during the full Council meeting set for March 2, 2015.”

Comments From Council Vice President Barth at the Signing Ceremony for the Indianapolis Pre-K Program

December 11, 2014

Below are the comments made by Council Vice President John Barth at the signing ceremony for the Indianapolis Pre-K Program on December 11, 2014:

Today’s launch of the Indianapolis Pre-K program represents the best of  government: strong policy that will bear fruit for generations, coming as the result of a true community effort.  We are here because elected officials of different parties, community non-profits, and business leaders came together to address a serious problem. There is an alarming increase in child poverty in Indianapolis – nearly a third of our kids live in poverty. The increase in poverty didn’t happen for a single reason, and there is no single solution. Action on many fronts is required, and today we take a bold step. It is clear by nearly every measure that access to high quality early education puts kids from families in need on the path to a better life. That is why we act today – it is a big step, but it is not a victory lap. The Indianapolis pre-K program won’t solve child poverty in Indianapolis, but it is a good foundation for what Council and the Mayor can do together to support  families. The opportunity to lead the effort for quality pre-k and seeing it pass overwhelmingly on December 1st was one of my proudest days on the Council. Today I am pleased to stand with the Mayor as he signs it into law. Let’s keep our expectations high. This is just the beginning.

Joint Statement from Council President Maggie A. Lewis and Vice President John Barth on the passage of Proposal 367

December 2, 2014

Joint Statement from Council President Maggie A. Lewis and Vice President John Barth on the passage of Proposal 367 – the Indianapolis Pre-K Program.

We are heartened that the Indianapolis City/County Council passed bipartisan Proposal 367 tonight. With this historic vote, the Council has ensured that families can set a positive direction for children in our city who start life at a disadvantage. Over the next five years thousands of Indianapolis children will experience the benefits of high quality pre-k and start their lives on the road to success. We look forward to tracking their progress and making any needed adjustments to Proposal 367. We would like to thank our Council colleagues for their support, the corporate community, especially Eli Lilly & Co., for their dedication, many community advocates, and the mayor for his commitment – together we will make a difference in the lives of our city’s children for years to come.

Bipartisan Letter to the Editor on Pre-K Published in the Indy Star

November 30, 2014

The following Letter to the Editor, on Proposal 367, was published on the Indy Star on November 30, 2014:

Indy’s preschool plan will launch kids in right direction
By Councilors Barth, Lewis, Robinson, Hickman, Moriarty Adams, Osili, Miller, Hunter, and Shreve.

Tomorrow, the Indianapolis City/County Council has the opportunity to set a new course for children in our community who start school at a disadvantage, and face a future where they may never catch up.

With the child poverty rate having doubled in Marion County since 2000, it is time to take a bold step and send a clear message – educating our young Indianapolis children is a top priority and helping level the playing field will benefit those most at-risk by closing learning gaps.

There will never be complete agreement on issues like vouchers, charter schools, testing and evaluation. Both Democrats and Republicans see division within their own parties on these issues. However, no one can dispute this simple fact: children who start school already behind and unprepared are going to struggle and they should not have to.

Quality pre-K instruction can help launch students in the right direction and that is why this bipartisan group of Indianapolis City/County Councilors are co-sponsoring Proposal 367 which establishes the “Indianapolis Pre-K Program” as a five year pilot.

When Mayor Ballard proposed the idea of City/County government funding pre-K, the corporate community stepped up, led by a championing Eli Lilly & Co. pledging to donate and raise $10 million from the corporate community. This unprecedented contribution gave the Council and the Mayor the unique opportunity to develop a much needed program that is vital to the future of the city. Working together, across party lines, over several months, the Council, the Administration, and the corporate community developed the proposal we will vote on during our December 1st meeting. Key program elements include:

• Start kids in pre-k early – kids can start at age 3;
• Ensure that our city’s most vulnerable families are served first – the program targets families at or under 127 percent of the federal poverty line ($30,289 for a family of four);
• Only fund pre-K slots at high quality providers as defined by the two highest quality categories set by the state’s Path to QUALITY program.
• Interactive oversight will be provided by the Council’s Community Affairs and Education Committee.

Make no mistake, this is a big step, but it is just a beginning. To truly serve all the children of Indianapolis we will look to the Indiana General Assembly, who has the responsibility for education in our state, to pass a state-wide pre-k program that will benefit every Hoosier child. As we wait for the state to take promised action on early childhood education, we believe that the Indianapolis pre-k program is an important step for the city to take to ensure that our families most in need of support can get their kids off to a strong start in life.

Joint Statement from City-County Council President Maggie A. Lewis and Vice President John Barth on 2013 American Community Survey

September 18, 2014

September 18, 2014

Joint Statement from City-County Council President Maggie A. Lewis and Vice President John Barth on 2013 American Community Survey

Census information confirms families in Indianapolis continue to struggle

INDIANAPOLIS – City-County Council leadership issued the following statements today in response to the release of the 2013 American Community Survey for Indianapolis, which showed that one in five residents (21.5%) and nearly one in three children (30.4%) currently live below the poverty level:

“These disturbing numbers confirm what many across Indianapolis have felt for some time – it is harder than ever for families to make ends meet in this city. Worse yet, these numbers have been trending in the wrong direction for a number of years now.

As we come together as a city to discuss the root causes of violence in our community, we must take action to turn back the tide of poverty that has swept over too many neighborhoods in recent years. Only by doing so can we hope to truly bring about the changes that will make this a safe city once more.”