Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Politics of the CIB Tax Increases; Democrats Strategize to Let Mayor Ballard Destroy Future of Marion County GOP

I'm working very hard not to say "I told you so." Okay, I guess I failed. There it is in black and white.

I have said all along that Republicans voting for tax increases for the CIB bailout is political suicide and that Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is leading the County GOP to a cliff and asking them to commit political suicide by jumping. The Indianapolis Times reports that the strategy of the local Democrats is to let the Republicans leap to their death:
Republican City-County Council President Bob Cockrum is dropping hints that he'll need at least three or four Democratic votes to pass GOP Mayor Greg Ballard's CIB bailout plan.

Cockrum may have his work cut out. The reality is that council Democrats aren't exactly clamoring to support Ballard's tax increase plan. Could you blame them?

Council Democratic leader JoAnne Sanders was even more to the point when asked by the Indianapolis Times about Cockrum's hunt for Democratic votes.

"The legislature gave us a "funding tool" to resolve a crisis the governor created. Now I hear the council president expects us to deliver 3 to 4 votes -- no call, no letter, no e-mail. Show me 15 Republican votes and we'll talk," Sanders said.
In the end, my guess is Sanders is going to send Mayor Ballard 2-3 Democratic votes from safe districts to get the CIB tax increase passed. A tax increase that passes is far better political ammunition for the Democrats than one that is proposed and fails. Don't think for a second that the CIB tax increases won't be political fodder used by Democrats against Republicans in close districts. It is not just that Republicans look like hypocrites after bashing Mayor Peterson for tax increases in 2007 and then proposing tax increases in 2009. And it's not just that many Council Republicans signed no tax pledges that they will be reneging on. What makes those CIB taxes even more unpopular is that they are, quite correctly, perceived as being for the purpose of raising money to hand over to billionaire professional sports owners.

Hopefully Council Republicans will realize that, even though Mayor Ballard has thrown away his political future on the CIB bailout, they do not have to jump off the cliff after the Mayor.


jabberdoodle said...

Whatever may or may not be happening behind closed doors, a public hearing stands between here and a final adoption of any tax hike.

If someone wants to speak up - pro or con - the likely date is Tuesday, July 28. This is the next scheduled meeting of the Council Rules & Public Policy Committee - 5:30 pm, room 260 of the City-County Building.

Of course, this particular committee is stacked with Republicans -- Lutz (chair), Cockrum, Malone, Pfisterer, and Plowman vs. Gray, Mansfield, and Sanders on the other side of the aisle. The Rs on the Rules committee all have pretty dependable seats, if not 100% safe. This might be why this committee was chosen, rather than the Municipal Corporations committee that oversees the CIB budget.

The proposal will be introduced on Monday night (prop 285) and there are two full Council meetings between then and September 1, the drop dead date for passage set by the Legislature.

Personally I think Cockrum was inflating the Republican vote count. I find it hard to believe a tax increase has that much support in that caucus. They have to be looking at how many safe seats they have, and it surely isn't a dozen. Even among those, the individual Councillor may have a philosophical problem with a yes vote that they consider more important than what the Party tells them to do.

If I recall correctly, no Republican voted for Peterson's COIT increase. It was pure politics then. The Rs got a much need revenue stream without the political risk of the aye vote.

Now the shoe is on the other foot and it exposes the problem when elected officials put the party before the people. I would be much more satisfied with any action taken, if it wasn't split strongly along party lines -- which always seems to be the case in high profile decisions.

Jen & Bill said...

Any guesses who the 3-4 safest Dem seats are?