Sunday, November 18, 2012

Star's Editoral Board Supports Mass Transit Plan Because It Means Raising Taxes

You can always count on the eggheads who sit on the Indianapolis Star's editorial board to support anything calling for higher taxes so it's no surprise that the newspaper's editors come out in support of raising Indianapolis taxpayers' local income tax rates by 18.5% to fund a billion-dollar mass transit plan. The Star's editors also support using your tax dollars to build privately-owned parking garages to encourage commuting by automobile but consistency isn't one of their fortes. The Star's editors worry that Sen. Luke Kenley, who chairs the key Senate committee through which the legislation must pass, has concerns about the plan.

Kenley, the legislature's leading authority on tax and fiscal policy, is concerned not only about the steep initial price tag of building transit lines but also high operating costs for years to come. In light of those costs, Kenley has questioned the long-term viability of the transit proposal.
The Noblesville Republican also is concerned that sinking so much mone into transit will forestall other public works projects in the region in the years ahead.
In addition, Kenley and other lawmakers are concerned that the transit plan's heavy reliance on federal funding could be overly optimistic given the nation's ongoing deficit and debt problems.
Does Kenley's skepticism doom the transit effort in the Statehouse? Not necessarily.
The editorial says Reps. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) and Indianapolis' Democratic Reps. Greg Porter and Cherrish Pryor have agreed to sponsor the legislation in the House. Supporters expect Sens. Brent Waltz (R) and Greg Taylor (D) to help out in the Senate. Waltz fell in love with the mass transit plan after taking a junket with Mayor Ballard to visit Charlotte, North Carolina's transit system. The guy who ran as an anti-tax lawmaker to oust long-term Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst now is embracing the concept of raising taxes since he started a new love affair with the teacher's unions. Taylor, a bond lawyer, is hoping to get his MBE kickback on the bond work that will accompany a new transit system. The Star editorial says it is encouraged that voters would support a tax increase for mass transit because they backed referendums for the construction of the new Wishard Hospital and to renovate IPS buildings. The former was sold to voters because they were assured the Health & Hospital Corporation would not have to levy property taxes to pay off the bond debt on the new hospital. On the latter, the Star should go back and look at how many schools we raised property taxes to renovate have subsequently been closed because of the school district's declining enrollment as parents flee to other school systems or send their children to alternative schools.

No comments: