Ballard could not put a timeline on when the city and CIB would present a plan to close the deficit, in part because he said he expects the state legislature to be a part of that effort this year.Wait a second. The time for introducing legislation is long past. There has been no legislative proposal introduced to bail out the CIB. Yet the Mayor's people say they expect the state legislature to be part of the effort to close the deficit?
Folks, I worked in the Indiana Senate for three legislative sessions and have taught how our state legislature operates for some 20 years. I know how the game is played. You introduce a bill, and it goes through the full legislative process with plenty of chances for exposure, including two standing committees where public testimony is taken. The CIB proposal would have been crushed by public opposition. Don't think for a second that the City's lobbyists do not know that.
In the legislature, if you want to do something controversial, something under the public's radar, you do it in conference committee. Conference committees, which are designed to work out the differences between House and Senate versions of the same bill, take place at the end of the session generally on a compressed time table. The committees do not take public testimony. But conferees are free to insert pretty much whatever they want into the compromise version of the bill then send it back to the floor of both houses for a final vote.
If you want to get a controversial provision passed, you stick it in the middle of a conference committee report during the chaotic last days of the session when the media is overwhelmed with all the action. It will get much less publicity during the last days of the session and the forces against the provision will not have time to marshall the forces to stop it.
The deadline for bills to pass out of the first house has passed. Yet the Mayor expects the General Assembly to take action on the CIB. Translation: They plan to stick the CIB bailout in the budget bill considered in conference. The Mayor's lobbyists intend to bypass the public and cut out any opportunity for we, the people, to speak out against taxpayer money being used to bail out the CIB. You can bet on it.
Once again, it looks like Mayor Ballard is slapping the face of the very taxpayers who helped get him elected.