Editorial roundup – May 30

An appeal to open government

South Bend Tribune

Consumer advocacy groups and professional journalism organizations concerned about a recent Indiana Supreme Court ruling on lawmaker emails are asking the court to reconsider that decision.

It’s an appeal that anyone who cares about open government should support.

In April, the high court ruled that although Indiana legislators are subject to the state’s public access law, ordering release of lawmaker email communications with lobbying groups and businesses violates the state constitution’s separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government.

The groups filing the appeal say the decision could be used by other branches that do not want to release records. They also asked the court to rule that emails sent between Rep. Eric Koch (R-Bedford) and the paid lobbyists or energy utilities must be released.

The high court’s ruling, which allows lawmakers to withhold their communications with lobbying groups and businesses, also opens the door to further attempts to keep the people’s business shrouded in secrecy. We support this appeal to reverse a devastating blow to the public’s right to know.

Contribution loophole must close

(Anderson) Herald Bulletin

Democratic challenger John Gregg and Republican incumbent Gov. Mike Pence are locked in a tight and historically significant battle to win Indiana’s gubernatorial election in November.

So it should be highly disconcerting to Hoosiers to know that big money, hidden behind limited liability corporations and political action committees and coming mostly from out of state, is pulling the candidates’ strings and bankrolling their campaigns.

According to The Associated Press, Pence and Gregg have filled their war chests with, combined, about $18 million, putting their race on course to be one of the most costly in state history. Of about $13 million contributed to their campaigns since Jan. 1, more than $4.5 million, or about 35 percent, has come from contributors masked by LLCs and PACs.

Pence’s largest donation, $1.6 million, came from a Washington-based PAC funded by the Republican Governors Association. Gregg’s campaign has a windfall of about $1.4 million from a combination of six out-of-state labor union PACs and the Democratic Governors Association.

State legislators must work hard and in good faith, with sound public policy in mind, to close this state law loophole that enables out-of-state unions and corporations to stuff the purses of candidates for governor and other offices.

Get strict on local tax abatement

KPC News Service

It was refreshing to see some members of the Angola Common Council stand tough with companies who were up for tax abatement compliance checks.

A few companies up for review in May had not met the benchmarks they promised city leaders in order to receive tax abatement. Two council members voted against finding these companies in compliance.

Typically the companies’ missed mark was in the area of employment. Others had sloppy paperwork.

Getting strict with tax abatement compliance should send a message: if you don’t do as promised for tax breaks, you lose them. We have seen this happen with other governments in the community. Approving compliance for companies that are not meeting the promises they made is sending the wrong message, one that could be more costly in the long run by attracting low-paying companies that might not be truly interested in a long-term investment in our community.