Their answer for funding pre-K education is to eliminate the homestead property tax credit that will raise taxes on Marion County homeowners and, ironically, cut funding for our public schools by millions at the same time. Never mind that municipal government is neither constitutionally nor statutorily charged with providing education in this state; if you don't support it, we will use our opinion and news pages to punish you. Here's a brief response I posted on the Star's website in response to the threats and bullying they are now engaged with our elected officials:
It's not leadership or sound public policy to threaten and bully members of our city council the way the opinion and management staff of the Star is doing to force them to fund something city government is not constitutionally or statutorily charged with funding.
Who are you to meet in private with the city's most powerful corporate leaders to decide what you think is in the best interests of this city and then dictate public policy to the rest of us to suit your self-serving ends, no matter how many laws or ethical improprieties are committed along the way?
Your readers only need to understand one basic fact--the constitutional responsibility for public education rests with the state's Department of Education and the public school districts established throughout the state to help carry out the charge to offer free public education to our state's children. Nowhere does our state laws charge municipal government with that responsibility, which many of us believe is failing already at its job of providing basic city services.
This newspaper must accept partial blame for that because of your misuse of your position in the community to bully and pressure elected officials to support crony capitalism for the benefit of private real estate development and sports team owners to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars annually, while short-changing the funding of basic services. Your answer is always to demand that we pay higher taxes to get what we want, and when we do, we find that the bulk of the higher taxes we pay go for something other than what we were told it would be used.
Given the way your newspaper has treated some of its best employees over the past several years, I don't expect you to get it because at the end of the day you really don't care about what the little people think and feel from the ivory tower where you sit and feast with the city's most wealthy and self-serving citizens.In the last mayoral campaign, Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy pushed the idea of using Rebuild Indy funds from the sale of the water and sewer utilities to fund pre-K education, a plan denounced by Mayor Ballard, who said the neighborhoods of Indianapolis had spoken out loud and clear about how they wanted the money spent and that was rebuilding the city's streets, sidewalks, bridges and other basic infrastructure needs. He opposed raising taxes to fund pre-K education, which is precisely what he said would occur if we used ReBuild Indy funds and created a funding cliff for the program when those funds were depleted. Last year, he proposed eliminating the homestead property tax credit to fund more police officers. Now he wants its elimination for the very purpose he correctly observed in 2011 was something that should be funded by the state, not local municipal governments. See his comments in a mayoral debate with Kennedy below:
Here's something Republicans throughout the state should take note of as well. Indiana Republican State GOP Chairman Tim Berry sent out a mass e-mail over the weekend in which he chastised Indianapolis Democratic council members for tabling the elimination of the homestead property tax credit to fund Mayor Ballard's pre-K initiative. Incredibly, he used a Robin Hood analogy to claim that Democrats were robbing the poor by refusing to take money from homeowners to pay for early childhood education instead of funding basic city services, which is the actual purpose of the municipal government. Yes, the Indiana Republican Party has now stepped into the fray and is demanding that property taxes be raised on Marion County residents to fund something the Republican-controlled legislature and Republican governor has failed to date to fund statewide. Berry's message is that we should send a message to Democrats by voting them out of office for refusing to raise our property taxes. Don't forget that message fellow Republicans as you go to the polls. I won't.