Wednesday, July 01, 2009

State Budget Includes Referendum For New Hospital

Our friends over at the State House stuck referendum language into the state budget asking Marion County voters to approve the construction of a new hospital to replace Wishard Hospital. "This is an important issue that warrants the public's participation." Matthew Gutwein, chief executive officer of Marion County Health and Hospital Corp., which oversees Wishard, wrote in an e-mail Tuesday to the Star. "Any project that Wishard would propose would not involve any tax increase."

Now do you believe that? Does Gutwein think we are stupid enough to believe that this county can spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a new hospital and there won't be any tax increase somewhere along the line? Folks, this is another deal cooked up by the big law firms to generate some money for the professional services crowd. With school construction projects getting voted down all over the state, except for IPS, the bond deals are drying up. Don't believe a word they're telling you. I suppose this is just one of the few dozen surprises we're going to learn about over the next few weeks that got stuck in the state budget at the last minute. Lawmakers did not upload the proposed state budget online until right before the House began debating it and then voted on it a couple of hours later, allowing no time for public scrutiny of it.

16 comments:

niki said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul K. Ogden said...

Want to guess which law firm represents Health & Hospital Corporation?

Advance Indiana said...

I know, Paul, B&T.

artfuggins said...

Since it was stated that the hospital referendum would be this November when there is no regularly scheduled election, do we know what it would cost the county to conduct a county wide special election like this? Who would pay for it? Wishard???

Advance Indiana said...

Good question. It is absurd to conduct a special election for that issue instead of waiting until next year. I'm sure it will cost taxpayers close to $1 million to conduct the election.

Advance Indiana said...

There is a referendum being planned in the Franklin Township school district this fall. According to a pending city-county council resolution, the cost of the election will be $160,000. That election will involve less than 10% of the Marion County voters.

jabberdoodle said...

The referendum is this year? That's nuts. Didn't anyone tell the legislators about the economic crunch going on?

The Perry and Franklin Township school referenda are to be paid by those school districts. There is no money in the City-County budget for a special election in a non-election year. That was a serious conversation during the budget hearings last year.

The legislature needs to ban referenda from non-election years and they need to require school bond referenda be held in the fall.

Maybe the CIB will loan the City enough money for the H&H vote???

jabberdoodle said...

Now I'm mad at the waste of taxpayer money to fund a referendum in a non-election year. If there are two questions on the Franklin and Perry ballots, won't the City have to pay half of those costs, too?

What park should we close so we can afford this referendum?

Don't get me wrong, I believe the people should be able to petition for the inclusion of specific questions on the ballot, just not in non-election years when it will cost more money. If its a good question today, it can wait to next year.

Advance Indiana said...

There's talk about a telephone survey being conducted now that asks people about their support for a $900 million hospital. That puts the cost north of Lucas Oil Stadium.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

Well, we have to have some nice place to treat all of the lazy welfare people and the thousands of "undocumented workers" who take taxpayer money.

jabberdoodle said...

Its going to be interesting how they can confabulate numbers demonstrating no tax increase to pay for that bill.

They can feel free to call my phone number.

jabberdoodle said...

Folks with little or no health insurance also use Wishard. Lack of reform costs taxpayers for the higher cost of emergency care. Lack of reform costs human beings a declined life and a shorter one, too. Just so big pharma and greedy insurance companies can overcharge Americans.

artfuggins said...

Concerned Taxpayer, your bigoted comments re: lazy welfare people and illegal immigrants are disgusting. It shows two things. One is the obvious that you are stuck in 1960's bigotry and the other is that you are totally unaware of the operations of Wishard. Their ER ranks among the best, their burn unit is tops, their psych treatment is top notch. Lots of working poor people go there for treatment. I am opposed to a special referendum this year due to the cost but we shouldn't use your misinformation as a reason to oppose it.

Advance Indiana said...

Actually, you'll find a fair number of those "66,000 service workers" Ballard and other city leaders are always boasting about showing up at Wishard for health care. Many of their employers don't offer health insurance to them.

Septly said...

Why is this referendum a problem? Other than allowing for a special election for a vote on the proposed new hospital, as opposed to having the question during the regular election, there is nothing much changed by scheduling this public referendum. There may be a legitimate debate about the wisdom of scheduling a special election, but there is no nefarious plot being enacted. Ultimately, the taxpaying public determines whether or not they wish to approve the construction of a new hospital for Wishard. That is direct democracy in action. Either the majority of voters want to see the county spend the money on a new hospital or they don't. There is a compelling argument to be made for why Wishard desperately needs new facilities, whether or not they come at the expense of a tax increase. Similarly, there is a compelling opposing argument for why it may not be the best time for Marion County to fund a major public works project. The voters are intelligent enough to weigh the merits of both arguments and make a decision.

Advance Indiana said...

There is nothing wrong with having a referendum. The question is why it is being scheduled at a time other than a regular election. It is being done at a special election at considerable cost to taxpayers in hopes that very few people will come out to vote and it will have a better chance of passage. It is also upsetting that there was absolutely no public hearing on the subject before it got stuck into the state budget at the last minute.