Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Three Lonely Republicans

Only three Republican members of the legislature voted against the state budget approved yesterday. They are Senators Mike Delph, Jean Leising and Vaneeta Becker. I didn't hear the debate so I don't know what reasons they offered for voting against it. All 48 House Republicans voted for it. It's worth noting that two Marion County legislators, who went out of their way to make sure I listed them on this blog during last year's election as taking a pledge to oppose a bailout of the CIB, voted for the budget with the CIB bailout. They are Rep. Phil Hinkle and Sen. Brent Waltz. I will let them explain to you why they broke their pledge to the voters of their respective districts. My state representative, John Day, voted against the budget bill. He had said earlier that he opposed the CIB bailout but might have to vote for it if it wound up in the state budget. It wound up in the state budget and he still voted against it. I'm not sure why he voted against it, but I suspect it was over something like school funding and not the CIB. Note that Mary Ann "No Fancy House" Sullivan voted for the budget bill. Her husband's construction firm, Shiel-Sexton, has made tens of millions off CIB projects. Of course she supported the CIB bailout.

UPDATE: The Evansville newspaper says Becker voted against it, like other Evansville area legislators, because it put a higher priority on bailing out the CIB than other more pressing matters like education: "Rep. Gail Riecken, D-Evansville, said she couldn't support the budget because "it just doesn't have the right priorities." Like Van Haaften, she cited the inclusion of the stadium bailout. "It was possible to get $24 million together for stadiums, but it wasn't possible to support the kids in the state," she said. One of the only Senate Republicans to oppose the spending plan, Vaneta Becker of Evansville said she voted no for the same reason."

Here's a report explaining Sen. Leising's vote against the state budget, which complained about priorities, including the CIB bailout and the tax treatment of the Shelbyville racino:

“I felt I could not support the budget for several reasons,” Leising said. “Unlike the budget of April 29th that I supported, this bill did not include language to continue the Indiana Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Children’s Home in Knightstown. Although it provided generous sources of revenue for the Indianapolis Capitol Improvement Board (CIB), the double taxation issue negatively impacting the Shelbyville Racino was not addressed.

“Several educational issues also created concern,” Leising continued, “but the most serious for me is the shortfall for schools in the second year of the biennial budget. While it leaves a substantial amount in reserves for a rainy day, each of my 11 school corporations will experience a decrease in funding during the second year of the two-year budget.”

Leising said once again urban areas of the state like Indianapolis and Lake County won in the budget fight at the expense of rural counties and school corporations.

According to Leising, the CIB – which operates Conseco Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium, Victory Field, the Convention Center and the Colts Practice Facility – currently makes no direct contribution of sales or income tax to the state general fund. Instead, under current law, up to $16 million per year generated by these facilities goes directly to the Marion County Professional Sports Development Area (PSDA) for operation of these facilities.

Under the new budget, the CIB will receive an additional $8 million per year from the expansion of the downtown PSDA. They will be permitted to borrow $9 million in loans from the state treasurer for each of the next three years. They anticipate a $4 million savings in debt service as the state is going to back up their existing loans. The Marion County City-County Council will be allowed, under the new law, to increase the hotel tax from 9 to 10 percent, generating $4 million. After 2013, the City-County Council would be permitted to increase the admissions tax and car rental tax in Marion County.

In contrast, the Shelbyville Racino – Indiana Live! – paid the state $250 million dollars for a license to locate in Shelby County. This money was used directly for statewide property tax relief last year. From July 1, 2008, through June 19, 2009, the racino contributed over $50 million dollars to the state general fund in gaming tax and $5.4 million directly to Shelby County.

“It is difficult for me to understand why the state refuses to fix their double taxation problem,” Leising said. “Indiana Live! is one of the largest employers in my district with approximately 1,000 workers.


artfuggins said...

You were doing a good job of explaining the vote on the budget package but you just can't seem to pass up a chance to make petty comments about Mary Ann Sullivan....when you do this, it trivializes the remainder of the info that you are sharing.

Paul K. Ogden said...

After that vote against charter schools early on in her tenure, after running strongly supporting them, MAS deserves everything she gets. There is nothing like selling out the people who brought you to the dance. MAS is a one termer.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Uh, Mary Ann is the one who ran hundreds of TV commercials telling us she was not raised in a "fancy house", even though she and her husband live in a pricey downtown condo compared to the modest house in which her opponent lived. She seemed to think people should hold against him because his parents live in a big home. She had a big conflict in voting for the CIB bailout. I called it out months ago. True to form, she did what her owners ordered her to do.

Gary R. Welsh said...

You give the Rs too much credit, Paul, if you think we're going to win this seat back in 2010. You won't find an R who will get in this race after what the Rs did to destroy Jon Elrod's political career.

artfuggins said...

The GOP could not even get a candidate to run in that district. There was no republican who even filed in the primary. The party named a candidate later who no one is really sure what kind of house he lived in as there was never 100% certainly where he really lived....

Paul K. Ogden said...

AI, actually I agree with you except for one thing. History shows that the midterm election of a new President is a disaster for the President's Party. For example, 1982 (Reagan) and 1994 (Clinton).

I think we're likely to win that district back because history says 2010 will be a very good Republican year. I was being disingenous saying the D's would lose because of Mary Ann Sullivan's position on charter schools. Rather she quite possibly will be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Spalding Smails said...

Gary/Paul please explain why you have so much distain for Mary Ann Sullivan? Is it because she walloped Elmo in the general? Is it because you would rather have a Mahern representing the 97th? Is it because she and her husband achieved success from a modest background? She is a first-termer who got beat down by the caucus on charter schools. If you really have information of wrongdoing with regard to her husband's business dealings, please share. Otherwise shut it down! Mary Ann is one of the few level headed legislators we have in the GA.