Saturday, April 02, 2005

Republican Spending Continues

It starts at the top and trickles downward, landing like you-know-what at your front door.

Republican Governor Mitch Daniels is strongly touting his plan to fund a stadium and convention center with a package of taxes that would hit Hoosiers in ways they couldn't be counted on to keep track of.

Restaurants are targeted for the tax. Thank goodness the Restaurant & Hospitality Association of Indiana is blasting back. From the Indy Star:
"This is a bad way to fund a good project," said John Livengood, president of the Restaurant & Hospitality Association of Indiana.

Livengood said the tax would be particularly harmful to those with low and fixed incomes because they spend a higher percentage of their money on food. He complained that restaurants were being singled out.
Daniels doesn't appear to be backing down.
Livengood's reaction came a day after Daniels announced he was nearing agreement with city and state officials on a financing plan for the venture. A regional 1 percent tax on restaurant tabs -- as well as on certain prepared grocery store meals -- would pay for much of the project.

At an afternoon news conference, Daniels defended his plan, which also is expected to include increases in hotel, car rental and ticket taxes. He downplayed the suggestion that a new restaurant tax would hurt those businesses.

"I don't think it's a strong argument, and it's vastly outweighed by the possible upside of public good," he said.
Daniels is investing a good amount of energy making the case in favor of new taxes. Republicans in the suburban counties are puppies at their master's feet.
But Daniels has garnered support for his initiative in recent days from officials in the so-called doughnut counties surrounding Indianapolis, which would have the option of implementing the new restaurant taxes.

Although the tax would be optional, Daniels expects most of the seven counties that touch Marion County to adopt it. They would keep half of the revenue and contribute the other half, up to $5 million a year, to pay off bonds on the stadium project. The tax, meanwhile, would raise about $17 million for the project within Indianapolis.

The mayor's office has pegged the project's overall price tag at about $900 million. It likely would be paid off over three decades.

On Wednesday, Daniels met with suburban county leaders to sell them on the idea of a regional funding source for the stadium project. Hamilton County Council Vice President Steve Schwartz said he was one of many Republican officials who were skeptical as they headed to the meeting but left sold on the

Schwartz said Daniels agreed to make a personal appearance in front of the Hamilton County Council if that should be needed.

"To me, that sends a message to our council and our community that he is devoted and he believes in this," Schwartz said.
Here's something to take note of: Republicans have moved away from describing themselves as fiscal conservatives. They now say that they are "fiscally responsible". That is code for, "We'll balance the budget, but it will include more spending and more taxes".

Then again, some Republicans are so desperate to spend more tax dollars, that they are willing to take their chances with the balanced budget, and fiscal irresponsibility. There is no word a politician likes to utter more than the word "yes".

Two members of the Indiana Senate had a delightful exchange over state funding increases for schools and medicaid. The discussion involved raising new taxes on alcohol and tobacco. From the Noblesville Daily Times:
The revenue-raising proposals will be included in a separate bill and voted on before the budget plan receives a Senate vote. Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, acknowledged that much of the new spending in the proposed budget assumes that bill will pass.

"What happens if it doesn't pass?" asked Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Bloomington.

"Then we've got a problem," Kenley said.
We have a problem. Kenley is a spender, plain and simple. He must say "yes" to increased spending, no matter what for. It's a crazy time when Kenley can make Vi Simpson look fiscally responsible.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Colts Have Solved Funding Dilemma

Minor problem: They probably don't know it. The Colts released the results of a survey they conducted. As quoted in the Indy Star:
The study said 43 percent of the respondents from northeast Indiana said they would be willing to spend $40 annually to ensure the Colts remained in Indiana. In southeast Indiana it was 38 percent and in southwest Indiana it was one-third, according to a document posted on the team's Web site.
The Colts have found the people willing to fund the project. Get their money. They want you to have it! All the Colts have to do is contact those people again, and have them send the money in. Meanwhile, leave the rest of us alone!

No doubt, the Colts used these figures to begin to help justify taxation. They still have a majority opposed to them, by their own figures. No to the taxes!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

You Have To Know What Team To Root For

The beauty of being a sports fan is that it is always easy to root for your team. Whether you pull for Purdue, IU, or Notre Dame, for the Pacers, the Colts, or the Komets, you’ll root for the team wearing the right colors, no matter what players are wearing them.

That’s important, because players come and go. College teams completely turn over every four years. Colts fans have been pretty lucky in that the high-flying offensive nucleus of Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Edgerrin James has been powering an exciting team together for six seasons.

Five years down the road, the blue and white could become a defensive juggernaut. A problem for Colts fans? No way- they will be thrilled and will cheer the Colts, hopefully to a Super Bowl victory. It doesn’t matter who is on the team or how the game is played. As long as your team wins, you’re happy.

That’s a fair summation of Hoosier politics these days, too.

For 16 years, faithful Hoosier Republicans had been pulling for their team in the hopes of an electoral Super Bowl victory. For 16 years, the Democrats retained the governor’s office, even while slowly losing their grip on the legislature. Finally, this past November, the GOP won all the trophies, with Mitch Daniels elected governor, and a Republican majority in both statehouse chambers.

Republicans were ecstatic- at first. But, just eight days after his inaugural, Daniels used the platform of the State of the State address to announce his support for a temporary tax hike on Hoosiers earning $100,000 or more.

Republicans in the club seating were stunned by the move. While there is nothing quite so permanent as a temporary tax increase, they swallowed hard and cheered, but because they support their team, and their team is in charge!

The Indiana Constitution requires the state’s budget to be balanced. This posed the new governor with a challenge, as the outgoing government left Daniels with a $600 million deficit. The quickest way to erase a deficit is to cut spending, and with Daniels earning the nickname ‘The Blade’ while on President Bush’s staff, this seemed like a lock. However, Daniels’ budget would have spent $1 billion more than with the previous budget. The two highest percentage increase items? Teacher retirement up 73%, and something called ‘general government’ up 29%. Hmm.

Well, Daniels is just the quarterback, and he’s a rookie. Why dwell on him when the Republicans have a whole team of players on this winning team to idolize?

Early in the legislative session, Senator Beverly Gard (R-Greenfield) authored a tax on food and beverages. Not to be outdone, Representatives Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville) and Matt Whetstone (R-Brownsburg) co-authored two bills that would tax food and beverages. Republicans leaving their seats thought about heading for the concession stand after the first quarter, but then chose to mill around the hallway instead.

Representative Timothy Brown (R-Crawfordsville) authored a bill giving the green light to counties to raise taxes on gasoline from 4 to 8 cents per gallon. Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale) introduced another gas tax bill, but with a tax per mile formula that makes the tax specific to your vehicle. Senator John Waterman (R-Shelburn) has even written a bill that would forbid retailers from selling gasoline at below cost. If someone wants to sell gasoline at a loss right now, I want to declare him a hero, not send the Attorney General after him. Can we go back to the huddle?

Politics and sports goes together so well that Peyton Manning stopped by the Statehouse and threw passes to the lawmakers. Soon afterwards, several Republican lawmakers forwarded a game plan of tax packages in support a new stadium for the Colts. Reps Luke Messer (R-Shelbyville), Michael Murphy (R-Indianapolis), and Ways and Means Chairman Espich all issued plans that combined taxes and gambling. Senator Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) offered yet another plan, minus the gambling, but including taxes on most service industries in Marion County. Not one of them thought of leadership as using the prestige of their office to bring prospective investors together to create a private investment. All went straight for tax packages.

When the fiscal conservative looks at the GOP team in their uniforms, they will see that the familiar elephant logo is there, but the Gipper’s government-off-my-back players are on the sidelines. Those are the Libertarians.

Governing is not sports. When governing, the policy is far more important that the colors the winning team is wearing. If you are a fiscal conservative, what is the point in continuing to back the Republican Party? The GOP has run the ball to the wrong end zone and scored a safety for the Democrats.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Campaign Website Up

The new website for my campaign for Secretary of State in 2006 is up and running. See it at but be advised that not all of the links are operational yet. Good for a look, though.