Monday, December 15, 2014

WRTV Story About Lack Of Funding For State Roads Morphs Into Push For Commuter Tax To Benefit Indianapolis

A TV news story by WRTV's Katie Heinz is indicative of how the news manager's at the TV station order their reporters to fit into any news story the talking points of Indianapolis' downtown mafia, even when they don't fit into the underlying news story. Heinz begins talking about the problem the Indiana Department of Transportation faces in funding ongoing costs necessary to keep the state's highways and bridges in a safe condition. A spokesman for INDOT tells her that current funding levels will lead to one of every state highway or bridge being in poor condition within a decade if a new funding source isn't found. We're told INDOT is studying new funding sources since most transportation funding comes from fuel taxes, which are impacted by more efficient automobiles and drivers supposedly traveling fewer miles.

From the discussion of the state's highway funding problem, Heinz jumps to an interview with the Indy Chamber of Commerce's Mike Huber, who has never met a tax increase he doesn't support, and a call by his organization to allow a new commuter tax on suburban workers to provide more funding for the City Indianapolis, which has absolutely nothing to do with the state transportation funding problem.
. . . The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce is offering one idea: tax commuters who work in the city but live elsewhere. 
"The population of Indianapolis grows per day a net of 150,000 residents. And we've never really had a real revenue stream to pay for that increase in population," said Michael Huber with Indy Chamber. Lawmakers directed INDOT to study new sources of revenue. 
The agency is expected to finish its study by the end of next year. In the meantime, INDOT is shifting from building new roads to maintaining those already in place . . . 
Huber's commuter tax proposal belongs nowhere in the discussion of state highway funding. The commuter tax supported by the Chamber of Commerce actually would allow the City of Indianapolis to capture a share of the local income taxes paid by suburban residents who work within Indianapolis, as if they aren't already paying taxes daily to support the spending needs of the City of Indianapolis every time they eat or drink anywhere within Marion County, attend sporting and other special events or shop anywhere within the county. The suburban counties also pay a food and beverage tax every time they eat out within their own communities to pay for Lucas Oil Stadium.

Huber needs to go back to school and learn that so many people flee the City to live in the suburbs because they're tired of paying higher taxes and watching all of that money go for projects that only benefit businesses located within the mile-square downtown, while other city neighborhoods crumble due to a lack of funding and attention. Indianapolis' problems have nothing to do with a lack of revenues; rather, it has everything to do with misplaced priorities on where the money the City collects is spent. On that score, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce is a part of the problem, not the solution.


Paul K. Ogden said...

Ugh, Katie Heinz. Please bring back Norman Cox who was a real reporter.

Pete Boggs said...

Her views for dues posed as "news," are condiment quality; more flavor distraction than nutritive value...

If a tree fell in the woods, was turned into pulp & then copy which she read on air but no one could make sense of it- was it news?

Anonymous said...

I read the article on their website a few hours earlier and through the exact same thing - the commuter tax has absolutely nothing to do with state highway funding. Is there motive to tie in the commuter tax, or is the reporter just that bad?

Why is a person who has zero experience in the private sector running the chamber of commerce? What a slap in the face for their membership. Unless the membership is in full support of the chamber's true mission to just be paid mouthpieces for the Ballard administration.

INDOT is nearly out of money for a few reasons:
1. Ever increasing debt service thanks to borrowing against future gas tax revenues to pay for major highway jobs like I-69 and US 31. More debt service equals less money to resurface roads and replace bridges!
2. The Major Moves slush fund is nearly dry. The well-connected engineering and construction firms who feed at the trough of road construction have grown accustom to greater levels of spending over the last decade and thus demand more and bigger projects to keep the money flowing. Beware the military industrial complex - I mean the road construction industrial complex!
3. The state has lax standards on asphalt. Roads fall apart faster and as a result they need to be resurfaced more often - which means more asphalt sold and more projects for the firms previously mentioned.
4. As the article stated, gas tax revenues have not nearly kept pace with costs for maintaining roads and bridges. The article did suggest people are driving less, which leads me to think there should be a corresponding reduction in demand for new roads and maintenance on existing roads.

Anonymous said...

"The population of Indianapolis grows per day a net of 150,000 residents. And we've never really had a real revenue stream to pay for that increase in population,"

So don't pay for it, and those people can dine and shop somewhere else.

I didn't know I was a burden on you by coming to downtown. Now that I do, I won't trouble you with my presence.

Anonymous said...

"Why is a person who has zero experience in the private sector running the chamber of commerce?"

This is typical, that local chamber staff (in most Indiana communities)have virtually no experience running/managing a real business. That's why they support increased taxation, regulations, subsidies, special deals, and crony capitalism. These people [chamber executives] are, in their hearts, faithful government statists.

Anonymous said...

Here is my thoughts on this..first off , I commute from far-northeast side..
1. Interstates and state highways (INDOT) I feel all the over priced corrupt I-69 has had a huge drain that effects all other roads.
2. I 65 thru downtown split is unreal and has been for 2 years now.
3. The bid rigging on road work rivals and far exceeds the concrete-gate we had a few years back.
3. City roads (DPW) total destruction on highly travel Fall creek pkwy on both sides from Capital to Delaware.
16th street by the hospitals thru MLK and then down to 11th street looks like IED path in Iraq,,( I was there).
That is just a couple examples of hundreds..

my solution:
A)Indy is massive trucking - distribution hub. Charge excessive road us fees/tax on the trucking industry. vs commuter tax. (interstates and most of the traffic backups and crashes are semis.) I 69 south in evening rush looks like a Mexican boarder crossing with the volume and congestion of semi's.
B)Indy and INDOT must have policy (mybe they do) and enforce and hold accountable all the contractors for curb cuts,utility cuts and such...everywhere this has been done has turned into a rough to destroyed patch. No reason we should not make them repair to the level of quality of the resurfaced road etc..and followup for next 6 months to ensure it is not a crap job.
Obviously they are in bed with the contractors to much to crack down on blatant inferior work.

That is my simple thoughts