Updated: Friday, 07 May 2010, 11:55 AM EDT
Published : Thursday, 11 Mar 2010, 10:42 AM EST
WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLFI) - The debate over health care reform is pushing nearly everything else off the table in Washington, D.C.
That's the message a delegation from Greater Lafayette Commerce heard Thursday on the first of a three-day trip to Washington
Meeting with Governor Mitch Daniels' lobbyist at the historic Willard Hotel, the delegation heard health care reform is dominating all other issues in Washington.
"The cost to Hoosiers, at this point in time, with where we are with unemployment and state revenues down, we do not need. We cannot sustain what we have as far as public entitlement goes," said Indiana Lobbyist Debbie Hohlt.
Hohlt said health care reform would add another 500,000 indiana residents to an entitlement program that the state already can't afford.
"Our best estimates of the cost of the program is $3 billion over the 10 year window," said Hohlt.
Hohlt said Indiana's three Democratic congressmen - Joe Donnelly, Brad Ellsworth, and Baron Hill - will be under intense pressure to vote against health care reform.
Instead of health care reform, Hohlt said the state should concentrate on job creation. One of those job creators in lafayette is Tate & Lyle. The company's director of community and government relations, Chris Olsen, asked Hohlt about the state's position on greenhouse gas regulation. Olsen said Tate & Lyle invests millions of dollars in the Lafayette plants, but questions EPA involvement.
"Opening the door for the Environmental Protection Agency to basically regulate some improvements... Do you feel the delegation is sensitized to that, because that could have more impact than the legislation could?" Olsen asked Holt.
Some members of the delegation split from the main group to meet with lawmakers' staff about specific issues. Wabash River Enhancement Corporation Director Stan Lambert met with Senator Richard Lugar's program coordinator to update Lugar on plans for riverfront development.
Lambert said meeting face-to-face brought value to the discussion.
"To bring all these people to the table at the same time, rather than an isolated email. You're getting all the community leaders in the room at the same time so the senator and his staff can get an isolated view of the whole project," said Lambert.
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski also met with Lugar's staff and subcommittees, as well as the Federal Transit Administration.
"We really got an opportunity with some of the people that really do the work. Put the pieces of the puzzle together and explained some of our projects, and I think they were impressed to see the way we work together," said Roswarski.
On other issues, Hohlt said Governor Daniels continues pushing for revision of No Child Left Behind, opposition to Cap and Trade legislation, and trying to find ways to incentivize public-private partnerships like his Major Moves toll road lease, which she said put Indiana out front for federal stimulus dollars.