After all that, Senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) got down to work on the budget in committee starting with the Capital Improvement Board. Kenley proposes funding the CIB with an auto rental tax increase, hotel/motel tax, ticket tax and $8 million generated from an expanded-base professional sports taxing area.It really sickens me how much deference the media here in Indiana gives to Kenley on this issue. We have completely discredited him at every turn throughout this debate, but the media continues to treat him as if he is the only adult in the room knowledgeable on this subject and able to fix the CIB mess. As to his explanation for expanding the PSDA to include other hotels, in addition to the Marriott Hotel, to disabuse the other hotels that the Marriott will be favored over other hotels when it comes to convention business, it is disingenuous. The decision to play favorites was made long ago. Remember, I reported on how the new convention center won't have a ballroom, unlike the current convention center. And how I told you that one of the reasons the City backed the Marriott Hotel plan over other proposals was the sizable ballroom it agreed to include in its design plan. The other hotels can whine all they want, but the fact is the new Marriott Hotel will have first dibs on everything. Get used to it.
"There was concern among hotels in the downtown area that if you capture it all from the one hotel, then the convention folks would try to send everybody to the Marriott only, so we enlarged the area, but retained the $8 million cap," he said.
Kenley decided against consolidating the CIB, but does give the governor, speaker and president pro tem appointments to the board and asks the mayor to reappoint board members.
To my Republican friends, the Kenley bailout plan is what it is: a tax and spend boondoggle for one of the most inefficiently and corrupt governmental entities in the state of Indiana. It rewards misconduct and fiscal irresponsibility at a time when state lawmakers are squeezing every last dollar to avoid even deeper cuts in basic government operations. The Kenley bailout plan provides a $15 million a year government subsidy for the billionaire Simons, who haven't been required to provide a scintilla of proof to the public that their Pacers' NBA franchise deserves more of our tax dollars. It does nothing to reform the CIB despite all of the talk from Kenley and other Republican leaders about enacting the Kernan-Shepard recommendations to streamline and consolidate local governments. Nonetheless, Kenley and his State House buddies will pat themselves on the back for coming up with a plan to stiff average taxpayers to pay to run sports palaces most of them can no longer afford to attend because of exorbitant ticket prices. As for Kenley and his buddies, they'll continue to get their free tickets to all of the sporting events and all of the free drink and food they want while they're being wined and dined in the corporate suites at the sports palaces. And then they wonder why people are so cynical about their elected officials.
As an aside, Jim Shallow and his Indiana Week In Review friends discussed the CIB plan tonight on WFYI. Naturally, "Republican" Mike McDaniel led the charge in favor of Kenley's bailout plan and what a great solution it is. Of course, there was no disclosure that McDaniel is being paid with our taxpayer dollars to lobby for the CIB. So much for public television.