|Governor Mike Pence|
As Pence and his family settles into the Governor's Mansion in Indianapolis, he will find local elected Republicans not following his tax-cutting lead and, in fact, heading in completely the opposite direction. The Mayor's Office and members of the Indianapolis City-County Council have united to push through a 50% increase in car rental tax and a 67% increase in the admissions tax on all events held at CIB facilities. Instead of that money going to general revenues, 75% of it will go into the already-flush coffers of the Capital Improvement Board which runs the City's sports facilities and convention center. The CIB is expected to use the increased revenue to push for a publicly-funded downtown soccer facility which the CIB will no doubt pay to run while giving the profits to the private owners. In addition, a administration-backed measure has been introduced in the Indianapolis City-County Council to repeal the local homestead tax credit. Finally, a 19% increase in the local income tax for a major mass transit plan is being advocated.. A fiscal analysis of the plan already shows the local income tax being insufficient for the transit plan and would have to eventually be raised more. That's not to mention tax dollars that will be coming from the state and federal government, all of which tax dollars originate from taxpayers. Taking the money from a different pocket of the taxpayer doesn't change the fact that the money is coming from the taxpayer.
Although many of the local Democrats support these massive local tax increases, the astonishing thing is that local Republicans have cast aside Pence-style fiscal conservatism to support these tax increases. Few objecting voices are heard in the Republican caucus. Northside Republican Councilor Christine Scales, one of the few fiscal conservatives on the council, may attempt to buck her caucus and oppose some of the tax increases. But in the past her independent streak has only made her a target of party retaliation and resulted in her getting a well-funded Democratic opponent in 2011 who strangely campaigned against her on the basis she was not sufficiently supportive of Republican Mayor Ballard's tax/fee increases and spending on corporate welfare instead of city services.
|Councilor Christine Scales|
After graduating in 1986 from the Indiana University at Indianapolis Law School, Pence did the wise thing and moved back to his more rural roots. In that environment, Pence built a political career by being a strong conservative, both on fiscal and social issues. Pence, however, will find that the Indianapolis GOP establishment isn't fueled by conservatism I remember in 1986 when I first started going to GOP meetings in Indianapolis. I expected to find like-minded conservatives. Instead I found people who had Pence-type conservative views were often ridiculed by Indianapolis GOP establishment types for their beliefs. The view of the establishment was that government was about getting power for personal profit, not standing up for taxpayers or for conservative beliefs.
But conservatism makes the grass roots of a GOP strong. Conservatism is what motivates most Republicans to become involved in the party and do the grunt work needed to help elect candidates and make the party successful. Since my initial involvement in 1986, the formerly strong grass roots Marion County GOP organization has disintegrated. The local GOP organization is now a shell of its former self, a top heavy organization that rules by controlling the slating process while ceding more and more elected offices to the Democrats. You talk to local conservatives living in Marion County today and they are almost universally unhappy with the liberal direction of the local GOP.
Pence's fiscal conservatism, epitomized by his income tax cut proposal, is in a sharp contrast with the local GOP establishment clamoring to greatly increase local taxes to fuel more spending. While Indiana's constitution calls for a great deal of home rule, there may be a point where Pence has to assert himself into Indianapolis GOP politics to stop the seemingly limitless liberal taxing and spending that threaten to undercut his conservative philosophy.