Monday, June 08, 2009

Bold And Innovative?

"Bold and innovative" are the words Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce President Roland Dorson is using to describe Gov. Mitch Daniels' plan to bail out the Capital Improvement Board. Daniels put forward his plan after discovering that the CIB, which has been running deficits for a decade, requires about double the amount of money to operate Lucas Oil Stadium than is required to run similar stadiums in other cities. He also discovered it cost the CIB about three times as much to operate our convention center as other cities. Daniels' solution is to raise taxes by $12 million and divert another $8 million away from other areas of general state spending to help close the deficit. Another $13 million is being promised in unspecified cost savings. All of this will allow a brand new $15 million annual subsidy for the billionaire Simon family, owners of the Indiana Pacers, who complain that their franchise is losing $30 million a year.

The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce has been a big proponent of government consolidation in Marion County. Gov. Daniels' plan calls for the dismantling of the CIB and replacing it with an even more powerful locally-controlled authority that will essentially operate all city-county government buildings in Marion County. Transparency and efficiency are two reasons the Chamber often proffers for supporting government consolidation. Under a new, 9-member building authority being proposed by Gov. Daniels, neither of these two goals will be accomplished. The authority will be run by unelected members appointed by the Mayor, the Governor, the County Commissioners, the City-County Council and the President of the ICVA. The Mayor has the largest number of appointments at three, but no elected official will appoint the majority of the members. So guess what? Nobody can take the blame when the authority fails to do its job or continues to operate in secrecy like the Capital Improvement Board has done since its inception. How's that for bold and innovative? As for why the CIB has been operating a deficit for ten years, you'll just have to sit and wonder why it happened. There will be no investigation of the CIB's finances to determine what happened with hundreds of millions of tax dollars.

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