With another full day ahead of me working on a response to summary judgment, I have to keep this short. Some quick winners and losers from a local perspective.
Indianapolis City-County Republicans. They have, for now, avoided a certain majority-ending vote to raise taxes, a vote that likely would spell the end of many of their political careers.
Governor Daniels. He came across as fiscally responsible. His argument that stimulus money should not be used for regular expenditures is exactly correct.
Liquor lobby. They stopped the statewide alcohol tax increase and the Marion County tax increase.
Blogger Gary Welsh. More than anyone, this man man tirelessly and in extraordinary detail has exposed what's going on in this city, including all the fraud associated with the CIB mess. Welsh won a huge victory last night when the CIB bailout mess went down. Bob Grand says that Welsh's blog is not widely read. He should try going over to the legislature during a slow day, standing in the back of the room and watch legislators browse the internet to see what web sites they go to. He'll find legislators read Welsh's blog all the time. Don't think for a second that at some level that does not impact decision-making.
Senator Luke Kenley. He immediately jumped on board to try to raise taxes to bail out the Capital Improvement Board (CIB), then found people fleeing the ship. Then he failed to get a budget through.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. Believe it or not, I'm almost tempted to put him in the winner column as the legislature's failure to give him the authority to raise taxes prevented him from doing the career-ending move of fighting for several tax increases. Still I doubt many people are going to forget his incessant fight to raise taxes in the face of overwhelming public opinion opposing those tax increases.
Capital Improvement Board. I would love to see a report on how much the CIB (and the City) spent unsuccessfully lobbying the legislature for higher taxes.
Bob Grand. As I've said before, Grand is not that well liked down at the General Assembly and he showed it this session. Runner up in this category is Joe Loftus.
Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Colts. They were counting on tax increases so the Pacers could get their $15 million more and the Colts could avoid chipping in on a resolution. Now the odds of both those happening have decreased. If the legislature would only pass a bankrtuptcy authorization, the leverage the CIB has over the sports teams would increase dramatically.
Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John. He and Mayor Ballard have dragged the local Republican party into being the party of raising taxes for sports billionaires. That's an image that is going to haunt the Marion County GOP for years to come.
Some additional observations:
First, I don't buy into these claims that Indiana is the "worst legislature." The legislative process is by its nature ugly and inefficient. We in Indiana could do a lot better when it comes to legislative ethics reform. But I think you'll find problems in every state legislature. And don't even get me started with Congress.
Finally, you will rarely hear me talk about the terrible cost of a special session, which they now estimate at $12,000 a day. That is peanuts compared to the amount spent annually by this state. I would much rather have the legislature spend an extra day or two to get the budget right. It's not like the legislature is going to be spending another month in session. They'll work out a deal, come in for one or two days and pass the budget. What is in that budget will have a much, much greater impact on taxpayers than $12,000 a day for a special session. The important thing is to get the budget right.
OGDEN FOR MAYOR!
Thanks for what you said about Gary Welsh. I could not agree more! Gary IS a force. I hope he never retires. And I hope people that count on his blog everyday for news, take time to send him a little paypal here and there like they would spend on a magazine subscription.
While I agree with you that the cost of an extra session is relatively mild, the fact is that the Indiana Legislature has one piece of legislation to pass, as required by the state Consitution: A budget. That should have been the priority the entire time.
The losers were the taxpayers. There were no winners. The boys and girls should have done their constitutional duty and pass a budget. No worrying about Puppy Mills and the CIB.
The budget should have been passed and then if time worry about the others.
In real world politics you might also consider the fact the Legislature gave more care and concern to the puppy mills than it did the CIB. That should tell a lot of people "Big Folks" where they and the CIB stand in the grand scheme of things.
It is time to clean the city so everyone in Indianapolis is a WINNER!
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