Michael was the keynote speaker at the Annual Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner. She opened her talk reminiscing about her start in politics 22 years ago in the very room where Monday's dinner was taking place.
"Sally Grey overheard me say what this county needed was more Democrats. She came up to me and told me I should run for an office," laughed Michael.
"You have to know I absolutely love what I do. Thank you for the opportunity to do this because it has been a fabulous experience," she stated.
Michael also noted that beside herself, there were 150 people at the state who pour their heart and soul into their jobs.
"We saw 1,311 bills at the beginning of the year. We've passed 184 bills," said Michael.
She told the group about a bill that was proposed to move the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) to the Department of Education (DOE).
"I told the person who proposed this bill, 'If we pass this bill, no matter what we do or don't do, we will always be remembered as the ones who got rid of the IHSAA.' This is Indiana -- the heart of basketball country. We can't do this," she noted. The bill got pulled before it ever got to the house.
She told the audience her biggest issue is education. She referred to the large amount of stimulus money going toward schools until 2012. Her concern lies with what schools will do in 2012 when that money is no longer there.
"We need to have state revenue funds, not stimulus funds in place," she said.
Michael reported that she expected to see a deficit of $3.164 million in the schools in her district. The schools losing students, like those in rural areas, are also losing dollars for education. Those gaining students are gaining money.
She referred to Carmel Clay schools that are slated to receive an increase of $3.16 million in the future.
She also discussed a decrease in funds for higher education at a time when more students are applying for aid.
"There are 32 percent more kids applying for financial aid and that aid has been cut by four percent," explained Michael.
She stated there would be a budget by June 30. On the other hand, she told the group the homestead credit was gone and to expect a slight increase in property tax bills because of it. She did say tax bills should be out in August.
Michael commented on what a fascinating experience being in the state legislature is.
"It really does work. Every law goes through six readings before it is passed. That's a lot of eyes," she stated. "Our priorities are operation, maintenance and education right now."
She concluded her talk by thanking the group for electing her, for being Democrats and for continuing to support her.
Michael is a lifelong resident of Putnam County. She was elected Putnam County clerk, elected to the Putnam County Council and served three terms as Greencastle mayor. She has also worked for the Indiana State Auditor and at the Indiana Department of Corrections.
She is in her first term representing Indiana District 44, which covers all of Putnam County and parts of Clay, Vigo and Parke counties. She served on the Natural Resource, Economic Development, Local Government and Agriculture committees. She will run for re-election next year.
Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from Indiana University and is a North Putnam graduate.
Committee members Amanda Mollinex, Bud Sharp and Jinsie Bingham were responsible for coordinating the annual Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner.