|Council President Maggie Lewis|
The Commission members who ended up being appointed are: Jim Steele, Co-Chair,Beth Henkel, Co-Chair, Bob Lutz, City-County Councillor (R), Vop Osili, City-County Councillor (D),Frank Mascari, City-County Councillor (D), Jack Sandlin, City-County Councillor (R),Chris Pryor, Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of Realtors (MIBOR),Dan Sellers, CFO, Health and Hospital Corporation, Joe O’Connor, Marion County Assessor,Jeff Spalding, City Controller's Designee.
It will be interesting to see if the Democrats on the council have learned anything these past few months. Earlier this year, Democrats and Republicans entered into a budget deal that included a 50% increase in the local car rental tax and 67% increase in the admissions tax. After the first year, 75% of the money raised from the two tax increases go to the CIB which is currently flush with money. The Democrats agreed to provide 8 votes to match 8 Republicans in support of those tax increases. That "bipartisanship" ensured that neither party could be held responsible for the tax increases at the polls. While Democrats, led by Council President Lewis, were letting Republicans off the hook for the CIB tax increases, Republicans were maneuvering a few blocks away at the Statehouse to increase Republican Mayor Greg Ballard's budgetary powers and to reduce the size of the council by eliminating the four at-large seats that would have undoubtedly been won by the Democrats.
Now the council has the opportunity to eliminate the local homestead tax credit. Ballard, who actually campaigned in 2007 on the possible elimination of the property tax, supports the elimination of the homestead tax credit which will lead to higher property taxes for many residents. Republican leaders on the council also support the increase in property taxes via the elimination of the credit.
Council Democrats are in the perfect position to make the Republicans own a property tax increase which would be ironic given the blame voters heaped on Democratic Mayor Peterson for property tax increases in 2007. Political Strategy 101 says that you make the other side vote en masse for the tax increase while just giving them a handful of votes to pass the measure.
What will be the strategy of Council President Maggie Lewis when the bipartisan commission completes its work and makes its recommendation, undoubtedly for the elimination of the homestead credit, to the Council? My guess is that Lewis will take again the bait and once again assist Republicans avoid accountability for raising taxes. I'm not convinced Maggie Lewis could pass a Political Strategy 101 class.