The coming Republican budget fight
Just because Republicans have a supermajority in both the Indiana House and Senate, that doesn’t mean there won’t be big fights this session of the General Assembly. There’s a doozy of an intramural slugfest shaping up between GOP Gov. Mike Pence and legislative Republicans over the size and scope of the state budget.
The fight is most obviously about Pence’s intention to live up to his campaign promise by seeking a 10 percent cut in the income tax.
The governor says it will spur the economy and encourage further fiscal responsibility by the state while still leaving a healthy reserve.
Most legislative leaders, including Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, think it’s too risky to go for a cut right now when the state is still trying to deal with tax cuts already made.
Red State is best model
The Associated Press has produced an interesting if flawed comparison of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his Red State fiscal model and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and his Blue State model.
“Indiana achieved and maintained an AAA bond rating from the three major credit-rating agencies throughout the recession by cutting spending and accepting billions of dollars in federal aid,” The AP writes. “Maryland maintained the coveted AAA bond rating it has held for decades by raising taxes, cutting spending and accepting billions of dollars in federal aid.”
How reasonable and even-handed that sounds. How very fair. If we avoid the extremes of a California and its unacceptably massive deficits and a Kansas that cut way too much in taxes, well, then, either economic model can work just fine.
Daniels' bold Purdue letter
Those who expected Mitch Daniels to go into quiet retirement as Purdue University president after eight tumultuous years as governor will be sorely disappointed. He started his tenure by releasing a public “open letter to the people of Purdue” containing the kinds of statements about higher education usually coming from critics of universities, not leaders of universities, especially ones just starting out.
The thrust of the critique is to complain about what some are starting to call the higher education bubble. “College costs too much and delivers too little,” he said in the letter. “Students are leaving, when they graduate at all, with loads of debt but without evidence that they grew much in either knowledge or critical thinking.” When enough people realize how much they’re paying for so little, the bubble will burst.
Unified approach to top priority
After announcing that Indiana’s economic future depends on “making job creation job one,” Gov. Mike Pence expressed the most profound sentiment in his State of the State address. “Let’s be clear,” he said. “Government doesn’t create jobs, other than government jobs, but government can create the conditions where people can be the risk takers, innovators and workers who will create the jobs and opportunities of tomorrow.” If only the stimulate-and-invest geniuses in the federal government could grasp the concept.
Pence make a good case for the one item of his agenda that is both the most important component of creating a healthier economy and the one he will have the hardest time getting through the legislature: a 10 percent across-the-board income tax cut. He rightly argues that such fiscal restraint will spur growth.
When we ignore our principles
Two strong principles help shape our criminal justice system. One is that everyone is equal under the law. The other is that once the assigned punishment has been delivered, even a criminal gets a second chance.
But we ignore those principles when it comes to one group of criminals: sex offenders, especially those who have preyed on children. Even after they get out of prison, they are hounded. They must register their whereabouts, sometimes a lifetime requirement. They can’t go to public parks. They can’t live within a certain distance of a school. Sometimes it seems there’s nothing we can do to them that is out of bounds.
But not so fast, said the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago. The Indiana law barring most registered sex offenders from using social networking sites such as Facebook is unconstitutional.