Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Indianapolis Council Leaders Use Vote as "Cover" to Fully Soak Taxpayers

Indianapolis residents pay some of the highest local taxes in the state.  Now  Indianapolis Council leaders have decided to soak working men and women even more by maxing out the council's authority to raise the transit tax.  The Indianapolis Star reports:
Previously reticent elected officials say they fully support an income tax hike for expanded public transit now that voters approved a measure on Tuesday’s ballot.
City-County councilors said the wide margin by which the referendum passed, 59.3 percent to 41.7 percent, lets them push for the maximum tax allowed.   
"I'm prepared to pass it at the full amount," said Council President Maggie Lewis. "And I think that by passing by such a large margin it gives a lot of councilors cover to do so."
The council still has the option of not approving any tax or passing one that is smaller than the 0.25 percent maximum tax, which equals $130 a year for Marion County resident earning $50,000 annually.
Of course, fiscally responsible Republican leaders on the council opposed the maximum soaking of Indianapolis taxpayers.  Kidding.
Republican  City-County Councilor Jeff Miller said voters made their preference known loud and clear.   
“I would say that is a convincing enough (referendum vote) margin for the full tax,” said
The "logic" employed by Lewis and Miller is patently absurd. How does the margin of the referendum passing, a measure in which voters were simply giving the authority to the council  to adopt a tax to help mass transit, have anything to do with how much those voters wanted the tax raised?  Maybe voters assumed that Indianapolis City-County councilors would act as responsible stewards of our tax dollars?  Of course, if they followed local politics, those voters should have known better.

Of course it is absurd to claim that a positive vote of 59.3% to 41.7%, a margin which translates into a victory of just a few thousand votes, is a huge electoral victory.

I have long heard Indianapolis council members argue that the State Legislature should not limit the ability of Indianapolis to raise its own taxes.  This is yet another example of why the Indiana General Assembly should never ever do that.  Indianapolis' leaders have time and time again shown that they will irresponsibly max out any taxing authority given to them.

But at least the huge tax increase will go to making great improvements to the bus system, right? Wishful thinking at best.  Twice in the last few years, Indianapolis greatly increased the local public safety tax expressly to increase the number of Indianapolis police officers.  Yet Indianapolis has fewer police officers than they had before those tax increases.

Unfortunately the Indianapolis Star article simply reports as true the claims regarding improvements that will be made to the bus system with the maxed out tax, all the while ignoring the fact that time and time again Indianapolis officials raise local taxes with the promise to do certain things that never ever get done.

We know from Indianapolis' entrenched two party pay-to-play political system that only a fraction of the tax money raised will go towards improving the city's mass transit system.  Much, if not most, of those tax dollars will end up in the pockets of politically-connected contractors and others who regularly benefit from Indy's corporate welfare culture...

If this past election teaches us anything, it should be that voters are tired of elected officials using their positions to make the elites more wealthy at the expense of hard working men and women who are continually asked to pay higher taxes.  Our council leaders should show some courage and stand up for local taxpayers and against the elites who want to soak them with ever more higher taxes.


Anonymous said...

Well, gee, Paul, isn't it time for Democrat lawyers and contractors to feed at the trough? We don't want little Joe to be a one term wonder? Pay to Play is doing good for the economy by investing and looting but it is a Republican play book, isn't it?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Anon 2:30,

If there is one thing that is evident from observing Indianapolis politics is that the pay-to-play system is bipartisan in nature. The two parties are great at working together when it comes to ripping off the public to enrich themselves. And those lawyers and contractors making out - they always have people on both sides of the political aisle working for them. They win regardless of whether a D or R is Mayor. Of course those who always lose are Indianapolis taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Paul, great post! You nailed it, and you nailed it again in your 1044 follow up comment. I've lived in Indy over a decade and spent much of it working for one of those contractors feeding at the government trough. It's disgusting what goes on in local government and most of it never sees the light of day. For the life of me I will never understand why the average joe refuses to believe it or cares enough to speak up.

Expanded mass transit is not about moving people... It's about development. That's where our elected officials and the rest of the downtown mafia are making out. I wish our late friend Gary was around to help dig through the layers of LLCs to expose the true owners of these new apartments downtown and elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Indianapolis pay-to-play system is definitely bipartisan, as evidenced by the employment history of DPW Director Lori Miser, who was anointed by Republican Mayor Ballard in March 2012, who job hopped to HNTB in December 2014 after approving multiple improper contracts to enrich crony contractors, and who was re-anointed by Democrat Mayor Hogsett in February 2016.

Anonymous said...

Paul, you are so right on (10:44), so very right on.

I moved out of the sinking ship otherwise known as Marion County and have never looked back.

There is no actual distinction between establishment Republicans and liberal Democrats; thw planet's worst City County Council proves it on a regular basis.

Anonymous said...

I'd almost be afraid to even write a letter or email to one of these city councilors, the mayor, or any other elected official criticizing tax or other government policies these days. Indiana Code 35-45-2-2 is fairly broad and allows you to be prosecuted for pretty much any speech or writing the "powers that be" deem objectionable. All someone would have to assert is the intent of your letter was to annoy him or her. Might not happen in Marion County since the prosecutors there have bigger fish to fry, but could be a reality in Hamilton or Hendricks Counties.

Anonymous said...

Article from the Indianapolis Business Journal today: "Study says swaths of city in decline"