He certainly should sign it.
Yes, it could lead to a local income tax hike of 0.3 percent to expand bus and rail service to give the greater Indianapolis area a “world-class transit system.” A recent poll showed a majority in the affected area would approve the tax, and 7,800 people have signed petitions encouraging lawmakers to allow the referendum. But there doesn’t have to be a tax increase. The bill would merely let the voters who would be affected by the tax increase and would benefit from the improvement project decide for themselves.
That’s something the state should do more of – let cities and counties have more authority to decide their own fates and more power to determine how projects they think they need are paid for. The point isn’t whether central Indiana needs an improved transit system but whether its citizens get to decide if they do. Almost every local government in Indiana has a project or two the need more home rule over.
But giving in to home rule has been a hit-or-miss affair, and the state is especially reluctant to give up control of the purse strings. But that is precisely the control that is most needed.
So, yes, the governor should sign. It is not breaking a no-tax pledge to give Hoosiers more power to decide their own fates.
And Norquist should stay out of it, too. His fierce anti-tax crusade has added a valuable component to the national dialogue on government debt (although it hasn’t solved the dilemma of Americans wanting more government than they’re willing to pay for). But local problems are best solved by the people who know them best because they are closest to them.
They’re closer to the voters, too. If they go too far and spend money that the voters don’t want them to, it’s very easy to kick them out and try again.