Friday, February 19, 2016

$42 Million In Regional Cities In Jeopardy As Allen Co. Official Wonders How Money Already Awarded Is Being Spent

Gov. Mike Pence is often accused of being too conservative, but his Regional Cities initiative makes him look more like a traditional liberal politician passing out public tax dollars for pork barrel projects to win re-election. After awarding $42 million for this initiative last year to three regions instead of the two regions contemplated by the original proposal, Pence came back to the legislature for $42 million in new spending approval in a non-budget year. The future of the additional funding for the program is now doubt over some Republicans' itch to raise taxes.

The additional $42 million in funding is being held up in the House Ways & Means Committee after passing the Senate apparently because House Speaker Brian Bosma wants to use it as leverage to gain support for long-term tax increases to support transportation funding House Republicans support. So yes, the Republican House Speaker is holding the $42 million in pork barrel spending for the Regional Cities initiative hostage until he gets the support needed for the long-term tax increases he wants for transportation funding.

Meanwhile, an Allen Co. Council member is wanting answers about what projects are being funded by the money already awarded to the northeast Indiana region by Gov. Pence from last year's $42 million in funding. Councilman Bob Armstrong raised concerns about a plan to provide a $2.8 million subsidy to Great Lakes Capital's Skyline Tower project already underway in downtown Fort Wayne. "My question is surely they have a plan of projects or are we just throwing projects in as we go?" Armstrong said. "I’d just like to know what their agenda is and what are we doing for 11 counties, where we are today and where are we going."

What you see playing out here in the state right now with the full support of our Republican leaders is the payment of multi-million dollar subsidies to reward the politicians' campaign contributors. It's an outrage and should be prosecuted as a crime, but it has become standard operating procedure here in Indiana. If you have the clout, you can force taxpayers to provide significant financing for whatever real estate development project you can conceive. Bribes, payoffs and kickbacks are a part of the legitimate process here in Indiana--only because we have prosecutors who refuse to see them for what they are unlike other places in America.


Pete Boggs said...

Indianapolis, Capi-toll of Corruption? See Dem "Republicans" expanding government by morbid proportion & raising taxes- party of what?

Anonymous said...

" Bribes, payoffs and kickbacks are a part of the legitimate process here in Indiana--only because we have prosecutors who refuse to see them for what they are unlike other places in America." Not exactly "only" because a governor with more smarts would not be so constantly rolled by the permanent thieves in his political party. The hapless Ballard became a well used puppet and Mr. Pence is being used in a similar fashion? As they say in France, an Elephant with no brain and no spine is just a large bag of excrement.

Anonymous said...


Linda said...

It would be nice to know the prosecutors definition of kickbacks and bribery.
I give over $10,000 in Political contributions and receive over 80% of my development public funded and that is not a kickback or bribery?

"The project is expected to cost about $40 million. In addition to the $4.1 million from the city, the project is being funded with about $17 million in federal New Markets Tax Credits, about $5 million in local equity, and about $5.5 million in state Community Revitalization Enhancement District (CReED) credits, Brad Toothaker, managing partner of Great Lakes Capital, told the council. The firm has also asked northeast Indiana’s Regional Development Authority for $2.8 million in Regional Cities Initiative funds to fill the final funding gap."

Anonymous said...

Great post, Gary. The one thing I would add or emphasize is the stupidity of the Pence administration for how they handled this. The General Assembly enacted the Regional Cities program and funded it at $84 million, and everybody was on board with the program and funding levels. But somewhere, somehow, the dunces in the Governor's office decided that despite the legislative appropriation for $84 million, they could go ahead and spend an additional $42 million and award a third grant. Say what you want about the current General Assembly, but if there is anything I learned in Govt Administration 101 it is about legislative appropriations/authorizations. I mean, who made the decision that it would be ok to add 50% to a budget authorization without legislative approval? Is the Governor's policy and budget staff so dense that they would miss the red flags on such a decision?

I have no doubts that in the end, the General Assembly will come up with the additional funds, but I think they should make the Pence folks suffer and twist in the wind for this bone-headed decision...and if they can get their roads bill and funding through as a condition to fund the Regional Cities appropriation, so be it.