Monday, August 13, 2012

Indy Council Approves Domestic Partner Benefits

The Indianapolis City-County Council approved domestic partner benefits for unmarried city and county workers tonight by a vote of 20-8. All of the opponents of the measure sponsored by Councilors Angela Mansfield (D) and Robert Lutz (R) were Republicans. Republican councilors who spoke against the measure most often cited the potential cost of the benefit--about $200,000 a year, no more than Mayor Ballard just spent in the middle of a budget crisis on pay raises for his staff, and a paltry sum compared to the hundreds of millions in handouts the council has approved over the past few years for billionaire sports team owners and private developers.

Councilor Pam Hickman hit back at the opponents for their willingness to deny health care benefits to any of their fellow citizens because of their disapproval of their personal living arrangements. Without insurance, she pointed out that the uninsured often avoid visits to the doctor's office and wait until they have a serious illness before showing up at hospital emergency rooms where the cost of receiving health care as an uninsured is at least three times as expensive as the cost of obtaining health care for a person who is covered by a health insurance plan. As Councilor Mansfield explained, many who might otherwise be eligible elect not to take advantage of the health insurance benefit because, unlike married employees, an unmarried employee is taxed on the benefits his or her domestic partner receives.

Councilor Jack Sandlin (R) complained that domestic partner benefits would be susceptible to fraud, but Councilor Jeff Miller (R) countered that the anti-fraud provisions contained in the proposal require far more proof to obtain the benefits than are required of someone who claims to be married. Councilor Lutz, an attorney, pointed out that some couples choose to marry simply for the legal benefits of marriage after entering into prenuptial agreements, regardless of whether they live together as husband and wife. Like it or not, he said the concept of marriage has evolved and is not what it used to be.

As I previously reported, Mayor Greg Ballard, who earlier indicated his support for the proposal, has wavered in his support in recent days. Reliable sources tell me that it's merely a ploy on Ballard's part to force the Democratic leadership on the council to advance his push to add six more TIF districts, which would further decimate the city's property tax base at a time that property tax revenues are shrinking from declining property values, as a trade-off for his support of domestic partner benefits. There are unlikely enough votes on the council to override a mayoral veto because I count at least two of the five Republican councilors who voted for its passage who would not vote to override the mayor's veto.


Indy4u2c said...

Isn't that nice!

Mayor Ballard can't make budget, because he let Frank Straub drive it into the red, with the LOWEST staffing of public safety EVER in history!

Wow! Hope we don't have to call 911 for what Mayor Ballard called our "Public Safety Heros"!

They may be an hour away! -and they buy their own toilet paper at police stations, Taser batteries, bullets for their guns now!

Guess Mayor Ballard has Bart Peterson as his CHIEF Public Safety Advisor!!!!

Indy4u2c said...

P. S. Where is the AUDIT of the Frank Straub Department of Public Safety????

-Wasn't it required by the Consolidation ordinance and currently ignored by The Mayor?