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Sen. Young’s young opponent has some political experience

Incumbent Democrat Sen. Richard Young of Milltown, representing the 47th District, faces a challenge from Christopher L. Byrd of Corydon, a Republican making his first bid for public office.
Young, 59, is completing his third four-year term in office. He was elected by Democratic leaders to complete the two unexpired years of the term of then-State Sen., now Gov. Frank O’Bannon, when he was elected lieutenant governor. Young has been elected by his colleagues in the Senate to serve as minority floor leader since 1996.
His top priorities as a senator, Young said, are supporting schools, fighting for senior citizens and quality health care, and protecting working families by promoting jobs that pay a living wage.
Byrd, 34, though fresh out of law school and seeking public office for the first time, is not new to politics. He worked for former Indiana U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, he was an aide to former vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp and former Secretary of Education (and best-selling author) William Bennett, and he volunteered in the Richard Lugar for president and Jean Leising for Congress campaigns. He is also a CPA.
“I am not running in opposition to anything Mr. Young has done or in opposition,” Byrd said. “I think right now the state is lacking vision for the future, and needs new blood in Indianapolis.
“Indiana colleges are spending billions, but the greater percentage of graduates are taking jobs in other states.
“We must provide greater jobs and incentives for our graduates to stay here. We need to provide jobs in an environment meaningful to different generations.”
To attain that goal, Byrd said incentives could be offered to encourage Hoosiers to remain in Indiana, such as forgiving a portion of student loans (after seeing what the budget would allow).
He also believes jobs in Indiana should be more diversified to maintain a stable economy.

Byrd, who is not closely related to Dennis Byrd, the Democratic candidate for prosecutor in Harrison County, has worked in his family’s business, Corydon Cinemas, and now works for Eli Lilly and Co. in finance and government affairs. He earned an accounting degree from Indiana University-Bloomington School of Business and earned his juris doctor this year from the Indiana University School of Law. He passed the Indiana bar examination in July and will be admitted to practice in November.
If elected, Byrd said, “I don’t want to ever say never, but I rarely think a tax increase is the answer” to funding problems.
“I think people can spend their money better than the government,” he said.
He said no one really knows what the reassessment will do to property tax bills, but he believes the legislature “is attempting to do everything they can so that property taxes don’t increase.”
According to the latest figures from the Legislative Services Agency on the impact of reassessment and the passage of House Bill 1001 during the special session, Young said apparently every category in Harrison County “will be better off.”
The shift in property taxes, according to the agency, is expected to have a negative impact of minus 19.8 percent for agriculture; minus 28.6 percent for residential; minus 10.4 percent for commercial; minus 9.2 percent for industrial; and minus 2.6 percent for utilities.
The increase in sales and cigarette taxes was implemented to make up the budget deficit, Young said.
As the Democratic leader in the Senate, Young said he is continuing to work with Republicans and Democrats alike to tackle the state’s toughest problems and improve the economy.
“I will continue to work to build a workforce in Southern Indiana that meets the needs of our employers, and I will continue to work to bring new, good-paying jobs to the region,” Young said. “During my tenure in the legislature, I have been very supportive of economic development programs that are intended to raise the quality of life in Southern Indiana.”
Young has served on many boards and committees, and has received a long list of awards, including public service and appreciation awards.
The 47th District includes Harrison, Crawford, Perry and Spencer counties and parts of Dubois, Warrick and Washington counties. Indiana’s 50 senators are paid $11,600 annually plus a $112 per diem during sessions for expenses. The Senate is in regular session 61 days during odd-numbered years and 30 days in even-numbered years. Senate terms are staggered, so that half the seats are filled every two years.

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