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    If legislative leaders are serious about raising the ethical bar in the Indiana General Assembly, they suffered a setback with the election of Jon Ford on Nov. 4. He arrives at the Statehouse with some considerable baggage.
  • A questionable 'no'
    The legislature is used to paring or turning down requests for more money. But the Indiana Department of Child Services’ decision not to ask for increased staff next year merits further examination.

Furthermore …


State’s drivers about to see Major Moves’ payoff

Northeast Indiana residents who make regular treks to West Lafayette – and there are many – can rejoice in the near-completion of the Hoosier Heartland highway.

The final stretch in the new four-lane highway is set to open in phases between Sept. 15 and late October.

The Hoosier Heartland Highway Corridor connects to the Fort to Port corridor to extend about 200 miles from Toledo, Ohio, to Lafayette. Once completed, the corridor will connect Interstate 69 in Fort Wayne to I-65 in Lafayette.

Most important, it replaces the winding and dangerous two-lane route between Delphi and Lafayette.

The $330 million project became a reality with millions in Major Moves funding, generated by the 75-year lease of the Indiana Toll Road.

The heartland corridor isn’t the only long-awaited project nearing completion. The U.S. 31 bypass around Kokomo will open in November, allowing motorists to avoid the frustrating delays on the city’s main commercial artery.

Progress also is under way in the long-awaited I-69 project.

The Federal Highway Administration this month approved funds for the 21-mile section from south of Bloomington to Martinsville.

That will cover planning and land acquisition. The targeted section has been the source of controversy in the past, but revisions in the plan reduce the number of homes that must be razed from 150 to 119. The number of businesses affected is reduced from 32 to 15.

Daniels belatedly signs off on protest of higher-ed funds

When the leaders of 165 of the nation’s most respected colleges and universities sent a letter to President Obama and Congress to protest declining investment in research and higher education, a prominent name was missing: Purdue University President Mitch Daniels. Look for it now to be included.

The letter, signed by member institutions of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, originally included the signatures of Michael McRobbie of Indiana University and Charles Bantz of IUPUI, as well as the signatures of leaders at Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Harvard, Princeton, Yale and other institutions heavily involved in research. Daniels initially declined to sign.

“I have been and will continue to be an advocate of major federal investments in research, particularly basic research,” he told the Journal & Courier. “I will say nothing negative about this letter, but, like many other presidents, I abstained from signing it, in my case, because of its complete omission of any recognition of the severe fiscal condition in which the nation finds itself.”

Some Purdue faculty complained, accusing the former Republican governor of political motives.

Thursday, he said in a statement he wasn’t aware the two higher education groups had previously called for deficit-reduction measures.

“If they are still taking signatures, I will sign,” Daniels said.

The Lafayette newspaper notes that 67 percent of Purdue’s $320 million research budget in the past fiscal year came from federal sources, including the National Science Foundation, the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense.

Bold admission step at ND

In a bold follow-up to its president’s call for immigration reform, the University of Notre Dame announced this week it will change its admissions policy to accept undocumented students.

The Rev. John Jenkins last month joined more than 90 other Catholic college and university presidents in calling on members of the U.S. House to adopt common-sense immigration reform. The Democratic controlled Senate, with the support of Sen. Joe Donnelly, a Notre Dame graduate, passed a comprehensive reform bill in June.

“It would be a tragic failure if we were to miss this opportunity to make this nation more generous, more welcoming and more prosperous,” Jenkins said during a conference call last month.

The university announced this week that undocumented students are eligible to seek admission as first-year and transfer-class students.

“In making the decision to admit academically qualified men and women who are undocumented,” said Don Bishop, associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment, “we will strengthen our incoming class and give deserving young people the chance for a Notre Dame education.”

Notre Dame is committed to meeting the full demonstrated financial need for all admitted students.