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Indiana Black Caucus focuses 2022 agenda on 'economic empowerment'

Indiana Black Legislative Caucus Chair Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis), center, is flanked by other members of her organization. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)
Indiana Black Legislative Caucus Chair Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis), center, is flanked by other members of her organization. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus says its 2022 agenda is focused on “economic empowerment.”

Caucus Chair Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) said that means more than just jobs and wealth.

“Much of it includes looking at how our students are educated and the resources that go into educating Black and Brown students,” Shackleford said.

Legislation the caucus will push includes scholarships for students of color pursuing health care careers, measures to help reduce the cost of child care and a pilot program aimed at helping parents attain an education.

Along with those priorities, Rep. Earl Harris (D-East Chicago) is authoring legislation that would freeze tuition and fee rates at public higher education institutions for each class of students. Essentially, incoming freshman would pay the same rate throughout their time at the school.

"We know that economics is a big part of what either keeps people from going and continuing their education post-high school or actually finishing it, so this is about making that a little bit easier challenge," Harris said.

Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) said economic empowerment is also about promoting what she calls “thrive-ability.”

“Tools such as tax policy, removal of burdensome fees and protecting families against unfair lending and appraisals,” Breaux said.

Those measures include a proposed child tax credit, required implicit bias training for appraisers and creating a fund to provide housing down payment assistance and grants.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.