Tonight, the City-County Council preserved 66,000 jobs, thanks to Republicans. In a near party-line vote, the Republican-led Council displayed courage and leadership when they voted to restructure the CIB. The hotel occupancy tax was increased from nine to ten percent.The members of the newly-chartered Marion County chapter of the Indiana Republican Liberty Caucus certainly did not think the vote was one for "good government." In its inaugural meeting just eight days before last night's council vote, the local chapter of the ILRC voted unanimously in favor of a resolution asking fellow Republicans on the council to vote against the CIB bailout measure, which included a proposal that would give Indianapolis one of the highest hotel taxes in the country and sets into motion a plan for additional borrowing and tax increases.
Mayor Ballard and his Republican team continue to show their dedication to the citizens of Indianapolis. Not only did they save 66,000 jobs, but they protected Indianapolis homeowners from a broad-based tax increase and opened up millions of dollars in new funding sources for the city. Democrat Jackie Nytes also understood the gravity of the moment and voted for the future of our city.
The convention and hospitality industry fuels downtown Indianapolis, and Indianapolis is the economic engine of the state of Indiana.
Marion County Republican Chairman Tom John commented on the vote.
"Republicans are showing the people of Indianapolis what leadership looks like. Residents have been protected from any broad-based tax increases, and all of us can look forward to a vibrant city for years to come. Democrats, with the exception of Jackie Nytes, played political games with 66,000 jobs in Marion County. We passed the best solution to a problem created by the failed leadership of Democrats."
Not only did the administration and Council create a plan to save jobs, but the Mayor presented a balanced budget that turned a projected $200 million deficit in 2012 into an expected $50 million surplus - all without raising taxes on the citizens of Marion County.
This was a good night for good government.
The people who make up the ILRC are the very type of people who worked tirelessly to get Greg Ballard elected Mayor in 2007 and feel betrayed by his rejection of Republican philosophy and adoption of tax and spend policies reminiscent of the Democrats. These are also the same type of people who rejected the candidate of the country club wing of the Republican Party, Ryan Vaughn, endorsed by Mayor Ballard, in the Senate District 30 vacancy contest in favor of the more reform-minded Scott Schneider.
Council Republicans have foolishly convinced themselves that since these will be "visitor" taxes, there will be no political consequences to their voting to increase taxes despite the fact that many of them pledged not to do so when they were elected in 2007. This wishful thinking is akin to whistling while walking through a graveyard at night, oblivious to the graves that surround the pedestrian.
But those council Republicans might want to back up their election concerns from November 2007 to May 2007. By their vote last night, they sent the clear message that they have no problem casting aside Republican philosophy and election promises regarding taxes when the city's elites demand that they do so. While that might please the city's elites, it does not please rank and file Republicans who make up the majority of the Republican electorate.
Last night could end up being much more than a ill-advised Council Republican led vote to increase taxes to bail out the ill-managed CIB. It could have well been the first shot in the civil war that will take place for control of the Marion County Republican Party. While the elite wing got off the first shot last night, there is little doubt that the populist wing of the local GOP is well-armed with Republican ideas and people who actually believe in them. If the vacancy election of Senate District 30 proved anything, it would be that the Republican insiders ignore the populist wing of the GOP at its peril.