State Government and Government & Economic Development and Government and Law

House approves $5 million for state fair victims

January 31, 2012

Indiana's House of Representatives is advancing a plan to give an additional $5 million to victims of last year's stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair.

The measure would help pay medical costs incurred by the 58 stage collapse victims who filed claims with the state. It would also give another $400,000 to each family of the seven people killed when winds toppled the stage just before an Aug. 13 concert by country duo Sugarland.

The House voted 96-2 for the measure. It now moves to the Senate.

House Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, said Tuesday that no amount of money will right everything for the victims. But he said the additional $5 million is a start.

"I will not tell you that this is going to make everything right," he said.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Kenneth Feinberg, a national victim claims expert who distributed relief money to victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and other tragedies, divided the money from the state's $5 million claims fund among victims in December.

But many leaders, including Gov. Mitch Daniels who asked for the additional money in his 2012 legislative package, said the state's $5 million limit would not be enough for victims.

Rep. Ed DeLaney, D-Indianapolis, tried to amend the measure Monday to raise the limit to $22 million, but was unsuccessful. He said his figure accounted for inflation since lawmakers set the $5 million cap on payouts in 1974.

The measure would also give $80 million to school systems to cover the cost of full-day kindergarten. Debate over the money comes after the Daniels administration discovered $320 million had been left untouched in a state account.

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