Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Council Democrats' Likely CIB Strategy

Look for the Democratic leadership of the Indianapolis City County Council to employ a smart, albeit obvious, political strategy when the issue of whether to raise taxes on the CIB bailout gets kicked back to the city.

Do not believe the nonsense that it matters what type of taxes are being raised. Any tax increase associated with the CIB bailout is political poison. It is not just that the Mayor and many Council Republicans ran in 2007 against tax increases and now would be favoring them. The bigger problem is that the public perception, which is accurate, is that the tax increases are for the city's overly-generous subsidies for professional sports. Clearly the new $15 million annual gift to the Pacers that the CIB and City insist on giving, which is not required by the Conseco Fieldhouse contract, appears to be the only reason left for a tax increase at all. While the Mayor keeps spinning the taxes as being to protect the convention business, it is apparent that the voters are not buying that nonsense.

Once the Special Session ends, most likely the authority to raise certain taxes will pass to the Indianapolis City-County Council. With serious arm-twisting, let's say that the Mayor's staff is about to get 12 of the 15 Republicans in the majority to vote for the tax increases.

Now let's say you are the minority leader, Joanne Sanders, what do you do? Do you hold back all your Democratic votes on the council and let the tax increases go down in flames? No. If you do that, you actually lessen the impact of a potential political issue. Voters rarely remember the tax increases that are proposed and fail to pass. They remember best those tax increases that pass.

Also, it can't be overlooked that the chief beneficiary of the tax increases proposed int he CIB bailout plan is the Simons brothers, the owners of the Pacers. They are the biggest contributor to Democratic candidates in the state. If the tax increases go down, so too does the $15 million planned gift to the billionaire Simons. The Democrats will not want to shoot down the plan to give the Simons more of our taxpayer money.

What does Sanders do? If Mayor Ballard is three votes short, she gives the Mayor the vote of three Democrats sitting in safe districts. That way the tax increases pass and it becomes a powerful weapon the Democrats can use against the Mayor and the Council Republicans in 2011.


jabberdoodle said...

Interesting analysis. The supposition of 12 R votes is pretty high, in my opinion.

Any recollection of how many Rs voted for Peterson's last tax increase? The one that got him and many D Councillors canned?

If gambling in Indianapolis were added to the legislative menu of options, the whole debate on Rs vs. Ds would change.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I think a couple Republicans crossed over - Scott Keller being one of them. Of course he got trounced the next election.

Actually in that case, the D's didn't need R votes. This time though the R's almost will certainly need D votes.

12 votes may be on the high end. Don't underestimate though the ability of the old Republican Country Club types to make threats and twist arms.

I agree that gambling as a funding source would skew the political equation. As much as I don't want Indy to have gambling and the political corruption that seems to come with it, I recognize that that's the one "tax" that there is a lot of support for.

Unknown said...

The Democrats needed the two Republican Votes to pass the last Peterson Increase. The Ds had a 15-14 majority, but Sherron Franklin and Dane Mahern were not with the Caucus. Peterson got Scott Keller and Lance Langsford to vote with the remaining Democrats for a 15-13 vote (Ike Randolph abstained). Langsford was not a candidate for reelection. Keller and Franklin both lost, while Mahern won by just over 100 votes.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Brenda, thanks for the clarification. I am getting old. My memory isn't what it used to be.