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Legion Demands 'Courage' From Legislators in Battle Over Children's Home

INDIANAPOLIS, May 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Commander of the 125,000-member Indiana American Legion today challenged the Indiana General Assembly to "find the courage to speak and act plainly on behalf of the youngsters at the Indiana Soldiers' and Sailors' Children's Home at Knightstown."

Ralph Tolan called on legislators to "not use the current budget impasse as cover for closing the home" which, under plans announced by the Indiana State Department of Health, would close effective May 23, 2009.

Following an intensive lobbying and communication effort by the Legion and its allied organizations, the ISSCH Alumni Association, and other interested groups and individuals, legislators restored funding for the home for one year to the 2010 budget. That budget now awaits a special session of the General Assembly to iron out areas of concern to Gov. Mitch Daniels.

"I am convinced it has been the governor's intention all along to close the school and let the state pocket the $9.6 million set aside to operate it - an amount equal to less than 1 percent of the total education budget for the state," Tolan said.

The school, without funding for 2009, is set to be shuttered on May 23 because, Tolan said, "as the administration says, there is no budget to operate it. That does not conform with reality: many agencies operate beyond the end of a budget year pending approval of a new budget."

Moreover, Tolan said, the current budget does not expire until the end of the fiscal year on July 31, 2009.

"I hope the members of the general Assembly will find the courage to speak and act plainly on behalf of the youngsters at the Indiana Soldiers and Sailors Children's Home at Knightstown, rather than go along with this spiteful plan."

Tolan also reiterated his organization's offer to fully fund and conduct a study of the role and potential of the home, in cooperation with appropriate experts.

"On January 26, 2009, the governor himself asked us to submit a plan for the home's future. We agreed, submitted a preliminary plan, which the governor ignored, and on April 10, 2009, we announced our offer to pay for the study. That offer is still on the table.

"This 'rush to final judgment' is unnecessary, undemocratic, and clearly not in the interest of the youngsters and families served by the ISSCH.

"I can assure you that regardless of the outcome, the 200,000 men and women of The American Legion Family will hold accountable those responsible for the outcome of this matter," Tolan said.

"We are veterans, yes. But we also are citizens. Our legislators would do well to keep that in mind."

Tolan also announced that he is directing members of The Legion Family to renew their email and phone campaign, targeting all members of the Indiana House and Senate.

SOURCE American Legion
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