Monday, March 30, 2009

Indiana Lawmakers Trash Constitution To Pay Off Simons And Irsays With Your Money

As you watch your Indiana lawmakers in the coming days, pay close attention to how they trash key articles of the Indiana Constitution governing the legislative branch of government. Section 17 of Article 4 provides that "bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives." Forget what you were taught in your civics class about how a bill becomes law. Those rules only apply to legislation affecting ordinary people. There are special rules for the rich and privileged. Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), who is in charge of tax and budget matters before the Indiana Senate, plans to roll out for the first time this legislative session a deal that has been worked out behind closed doors to raise taxes and divert other revenues to raise an additional $30-$40 million for Indianapolis' Capital Improvement Board. Kenley will likely stick the proposal on the state budget so lawmakers won't be allowed a straight up or down vote on it. This is classic legislative log-rolling. More importantly, the revenue aspect of this proposal will not have originated in the House of Representatives. This is also the case with a proposed fix for Indiana's unemployment insurance system. A proposal which originated in the House died there. The Indiana Senate originated its own unemployment tax proposal and sent it to the House recently.

Article 19 of Section 4 specifically mandates that an act of the legislative "be confined to one subject matter and matters properly connected with it." The CIB is a political subdivision of Marion County. Taxes which support the CIB's operations and debt service are levied by the City-County Council. The Board members are appointed by the Mayor, the City-County Council and the county commissioners. The CIB, in short, is not a proper subject matter for the state budget. Yet, Indiana lawmakers won't blink an eye before inserting the CIB bailout language into the state's budget or some other unrelated legislation.

When it comes to rewarding political contributors, the legislature has never let the Indiana Constitution get in its way. The Simons and Irsays have purchased your lawmakers with millions in political contributions. When they ask state lawmakers to approve higher taxes to fund a wealth transfer from the taxpaying public to their personal pockets to the tune of $30-$40 million annually, the legislature complies with their request, even as ordinary Hoosiers face their worst economic fate in modern Indiana history. Our Indiana Bill of Rights says, "The General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens." In Indiana, if you are the owner of a professional sports team, you are entitled to hundreds of millions in public subsidies no matter how rich you are or how bad the economic conditions of the state are. Or at least that's what the people you've elected to represent you in the General Assembly and Indianapolis municipal government have decided for you. Hey, at least you're not alone. The City of Reno is treating Herb Simon's minor league baseball stadium project to another $10 million of public aid this year on top of the $30 million taxpayers there have already forked over to him. A former Simon executive told me the Simons have two mantras for conducting business: (1) cash is king; and (2) always use other people's money. Those tools of power are easy to implement when you can afford to purchase our elected officials.

1 comment:

Downtown Indy said...

The word in the news today is that the deal gets done 'in committee' on Thursday. They were careful enough to not schedule it for April Fool's Day.