By John Pickerill
In case you missed it last week, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives voted to raise your taxes. House Bill 1002 passed 61-36 to increase gas and diesel prices on Hoosiers by 10 cents per gallon. That’s not all.
It adds another $15 a year to the cost of registering your vehicle. And you environmentally conscious drivers who paid extra for an electric car, you get to pay extra again, $150 extra for registration. Finally, the legislation gives the governor the power to add tolls to highways.
The winners of this deal are road construction corporations such as Milestone and Rieth-Riley who gave generous campaign finance contributions to the Build Indiana PAC, who in turn donated to influential lawmakers in the House (Brian Bosma and his House Republican Campaign Committee, Tim Brown and Ed Soliday).
In exchange, Milestone, Rieth-Riley and the other companies are one step closer to a juicy piece of the $1.2 billion in additional road funding.
Lawmakers love to fall back on the excuse that it’s government’s job to “be responsive to the needs of the people.” But they’ve forgotten that America wasn’t supposed to be a socialist society; it is supposed to be a free society. In a free society it is the role of the free market to be responsive to the needs of the people.
Specifically, it’s the entrepreneur whose mission it is to figure out what service or product other people need to best improve their quality of life. The role of government is to merely secure the inalienable rights of the people so they can live free — nothing more.
It used to be Republicans would at least pretend to believe that. But all 61 votes to raise your taxes came from Republicans, despite the fact that 19 of them made a formal pledge, “… to the taxpayers of the State of Indiana that I will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
These 19 include Tim Brown and Sharon Negele, along with Don Lehe, Todd Huston, Jerry Torr, Jim Baird, Bob Heaton, Wes Culver, Bob Cherry, Cindy Ziemke, Woody Burton, Jeff Ellington, Thomas Washburne, Jim Lucas, Steve Davisson, Martin Carbaugh, David Ober, Robert Behning and Dave Frizzell.
Yes, it’s time to name names.
Republican lawmakers are now tap dancing, making statements like, “No, no, no. Just think of my yes vote as a ‘procedural vote.’” Some others are saying, “But I had to vote yes. The roads are falling apart.”
The roads are falling apart because of all the hundreds of millions of dollars lawmakers diverted from the road fund and into their general fund over the years. And now they claim it’s all the taxpayers’ fault for not giving them enough money for roads. But it’s the fault of legislators for stealing from the road fund to balance their budget instead of lowering spending to do so.
Republicans like Ed Soliday just thumb their noses at their conservative and libertarian base, even saying that they don’t need them to get re-elected. Representative Soliday got $500,000 from the House Republican Campaign Committee to win re-election in 2016.
By the way, seven of the no votes on bill were from the few Republican lawmakers who put principle before party: Curt Nisly, Christopher Judy, Bob Morris, Heath VanNatter, Ed Clere, Timothy Wesco and Bruce Borders. They’re now enjoying hero-status with fiscal conservatives.
John Pickerill, past chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, wrote this for the Indiana Policy Review Foundation. He is a graduate of Purdue University and the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program and retired as a commander with the U.S. Navy. Send comments to email@example.com.