From what I understand, most Hoosiers are more concerned about the economy than they are about same-sex marriage, alcohol at the State Fair or any of the other inconsequential matters now occupying the General Assembly.
Why is that body moving to lower corporate income taxes and to eliminate the business personal property tax? Do they have evidence this will create jobs or raise wages in Indiana? No; they operate on faith.
They contentedly believe economics as simplified and taught to freshmen, rather than considering the complexities of the real world.
When will local politicians stop believing they can make their cities “world-class” by subsidizing the owners of sports teams?
The latest example is a proposal by a new soccer team to fund a stadium in Indianapolis. This follows on the heels of the cricket field being advanced by the mayor of Indianapolis.
Isn’t it time to stop property tax abatements supporting just about any business that fantasizes increasing jobs in any town?
As most responsible economic development officials admit, such aid is marginal at best in luring a firm to invest.
Nonetheless, when the XYZ Corp. wants to add some new machinery or move to town, it is hard to find a local council that can say “no” to property tax abatement.
For many years, I was an advocate of property tax abatement. Now, however, it has become a customary and expected subsidy rather than a key and meaningful component of business expansion and attraction. It would not be so serious, if the General Assembly had not been reducing local government powers and revenues for so long.
For decades, our legislators offered lip-service to resolving the problems of Indiana’s shrinking rural communities. Aside from study committees and election-time speeches, nothing substantive is done.
Perhaps nothing can be done to revive towns such as Dugger. Perhaps the only small communities that can survive are those swept up in the growth of metropolitan areas. Maybe even larger communities, such as Logansport and Portland, will experience more decades of relative decline.
Yet, Indiana is not willing to consider programs to intervene in this trend of decay evident in virtually every county. Universal high-speed Internet service is a necessity today. So too are high-quality highways and local airports. Redeveloping the infrastructure of inner cities and drilling out the decay of neighborhood housing needs to be on the priority list for our floundering larger cities.
More important is ending the education warfare that now plagues the state.
Some of our leaders are more concerned with scoring political points than they are in recruiting the existing body of teachers to be active participants in restructuring our schools and curriculum.
Finally, let’s end the campaign to keep young Hoosiers from migrating to other states. Our best educated students leave to see what the rest of the world offers. Let them go, if we truly want the best for our children. They and others will return to Indiana, if we make the state one where they can be proud to live.
Morton Marcus is an economist, formerly with the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.