. . . The legislature was right. It was right to be cautious. It was right to push this debate back a year. And it was right to hold off on the authorization of referendums to raise Marion and Hamilton county income taxes for transit . . .
[W]e need better transit and we need to accept that we have to pay for it, just as we pay for roads, bridges and other parts of the local transportation complex.
But the Central Indiana transit expansion plan is not perfect. There are serious issues that must be better addressed to sell more people on it, and they explain both why the legislature was right to be cautious this year and why even a transit advocate like me has lingering doubts about the expansion plan . . .
First up is the financing plan, which centers on raising the local income tax by three-tenths of a percent. That would push Indy’s income tax rate to nearly 2 percent. Because most of the surrounding counties would not initially or perhaps ever follow suit, this would worsen an already troubling gap in the tax rate between the city and most of its suburbs, giving people one more reason to leave Marion County or not settle here in the first place. Additionally, the income tax would be paid solely by people who live in the county.
But what if the plan were funded by a sales tax? . . .
My second concern is based on a broad question: Is a transit upgrade the most pressing issue in the city . . .
And, third, there is the question of whether a regional transit system is best for Indianapolis. As Sen. Patricia Miller of Indianapolis asked at a legislative hearing this week, will a regional system simply “make it easier for people to flee Marion County?” . . .