Thursday, November 21, 2013

Republican Lawmakers Recyle Bad Transit Plan To Screw Over Indianapolis Taxpayers

Marion County taxpayers pay nearly $30 million a year to subsidize the city's mass transit system, IndyGO. State taxpayers kick in another $11 million and federal taxpayers contribute nearly $14 million a year to subsidize the current system. Riders of the mass transit system contribute just $1 for every $6 the system costs to maintain. For reasons that are unclear to me, state Republican lawmakers want to foist a new income tax on Marion County taxpayers to extend the current mass transit system into the suburban counties. That plan failed last year, but the money-grubbing lobbyists and the government contracting interests they represent have been busy wining and dining the lawmakers who were charged with studying the issue over the past summer and convinced all but one of them to repackage an already bad plan into a newfangled plan that will add new taxes on businesses to compliment the additional income taxes they want to impose on taxpayers in Marion and Hamilton County. This new plan will supposedly require riders to pay 25% of the operating costs? Right.

There is no concrete plan for how this mass transit plan will work. Will it be new bus lines? Will it be new light rail lines? Will it be a mix of both, or something else? They haven't a clue. We do know that the experience of CIRTA's new executive director is strictly in managing rail transit. Why would CIRTA pick a rail transit professional if they don't have big plans for a costly rail system? The idea is sort of like Obamacare. Let's just pass something into law and see what becomes of it. They're talking about giving county councils the option of imposing an income tax in the range of 0.1% to .25%. So what happens if Marion County's tax-and-spend council approves a .25% income tax increase and Hamilton County's council approves a .1% increase on its taxpayers? The vast majority of the expense of the expanded regional transportation system is connecting Indianapolis' current IndyGO system with suburban residents. Hamilton County residents pay no property taxes to support a mass transit system like Marion County taxpayers. Yet our taxpayers are going to be forced to shoulder the burden for the vast majority of the expanded regional transit system with higher income taxes on top of the property taxes we already pay to support the system. Instead of an unelected governing board made up of Marion County representatives only there will be a multi-county, unelected board which will control an annual budget much larger than any of our existing municipal corporations like the CIB, airport authority, health and hospital corporation and library over which taxpayers have no voice as it is. We need another unelected, unaccountable governmental entity with enormous taxing and spending authority like we need another hole in our heads.

To reduce the size of the income tax increase on individuals, this panel of lawmakers is recommending a new tax on employers to cover 10% of the operating costs of the system. Just how this tax will be imposed is very vague. The Star reports states that it will either be an income tax or an employee tax. Small business owners or pass-through business entities pay the same state income taxes paid by individuals on the owner's individual tax return; only C corporations pay the state's corporate income taxes. Is the employee tax a head tax on every employee any business within the county employs? Would this be yet another burdensome tax collecting and reporting requirement imposed on already over-burdened and over-regulated businesses, which are already reeling from the Tsunami impact of the new Obamacare regulations?

What this boils down to is that a handful of employers in the suburban counties want to find a way of getting cheap labor from the inner city delivered to their doorstep to whom they are only willing to pay poverty-level wages. They don't want them living in their neighborhoods; they just want their day labor services with government-funded transportation that can return them to their crime-ridden neighborhoods in the city at the end of their work shifts. If an expanded mass transit system is so important to employers in Hamilton County, then why don't they levy a tax to pay IndyGo to expand their bus lines to provide bus routes between their suburban communities and the inner city? Why should Indianapolis taxpayers pay the lion's share of the cost of providing government subsidized transportation for their workforce?

I'm still not buying the $1.3 billion estimate the proponents of this mass transit system keep using regardless of which rendering of their plan is being discussed presently. Nobody even seems to question this constant number despite the ever-evolving plans being touted by the proponents. Mass transit systems almost always cost dramatically more than the original estimates. If they say it will cost $1.3 billion, you can pretty much take it to the bank that it will cost at least $2 billion. If they say it will cost $250 million a year to operate, plan on it costing $400 million a year. The initial taxes collected are never enough. Future tax increase are a guarantee. I thought we elected a Republican-controlled legislature to prevent the tax-and-spend madness.


Anonymous said...

one interesting thing is that google self driving cars will undoubtedly be commonly available way before a rail line to Noblesville could be built - and cheaper and more flexable as well. Why isn't this given more consideration?

Anonymous said...

Crime is horrible everywhere in Indy. We don't need a cheap and easy means for criminals to export their crime to the good areas.

How far North are they going to push us?

guy77money said...

Anonymous = of course there is no consideration of self driving cars because it's all about the money. Thus follow the money trail and see who can put it in their pocket. That is a concern about criminals going to Carmel and shop lifting or just kids (even if they are well meaning kids) coming up from the inner city and walking around the nice boutique shops in Carmel. Do shop owners want their look and their language in their shops. Think Pretty Woman where Bullock goes into the shops at Beverley Hills dressed as a hooker. Not to mention will there be security on the trains? One bad incident and most Carmel or Fishers residents will go back to driving. They are tough New Yorkers!

Anonymous said...

Why the assumption this is being driven by the suburbs? Brain(hard) has no clue what his residents want, and would lose if this income tax increase went to a vote on residents. Schools is one thing, but mass transit is a hard sell to show how that is going to maintain property values.

Why are the R's pushing this? I thought they hate tax increases?

Anonymous said...

Also, how does the tax increase on businesses work w/they also see their taxes rise because all of a sudden they are having to cover the debt service on Wishard's bonds since the Corporation has seen their revenue drop because of the Affordable Care Act?

Pete Boggs said...

Where does the party of limited government, exist?