INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 16, 2015) - Poverty is a growing concern in Indiana, with one organization reporting more Hoosiers in poverty than ever before.
It was just Tuesday when Governor Mike Pence declared the state of Indiana has never been better.
"I stand before you as your governor to proudly report that the state of our state has never been stronger,” he said.
"Poverty is still rising in Indiana, seven years after the recession,” said Derek Thomas, Senior Policy Analyst with the Indiana Institute for Working Families.
"What we found is child poverty, poverty, and low income individuals which is below 200% of the poverty level are still rising,” he said.
U.S. Census data, compiled in a IIWF report, shows another increase in the number of Hoosier’s at the poverty level; now more than one million, with another million living on the edge of the poverty line.
Thomas compiled the reports' findings. He blames high taxes and low wages for the state's poverty pitfall.
"You would still be living in poverty even if you were working 40 hours a week at $7.25,” he said.
An argument that is bringing the fight back to the state's struggle over raising the minimum wage.
"The sad thing is, that in Indiana right now, we have people who work 40 hour a week jobs making minimum wage and they're still below the poverty level,” said State Senator Karen Tallian (D – Porter), who introduced a bill that looks to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.
Indiana is one of 14 remaining states still subscribing to the federally required rate. The GOP, though, wants to reduce the amount of people on Food Stamps from a record 926,000 people in 2013.
"The cost of living in Indiana is dramatically lower than say a state like California. So they've raised their minimum wage but we have a much different environment here in Indiana,” said State Senator and Senate President Pro Tem, David Long (R – Fort Wayne).
The minimum wage battle though extends far beyond poverty levels and food stamp assistance. Business leaders also are divided over whether increased costs are the best thing in a recovering economy.