Good news for state economy
Indiana got good news last week on the economic development front. A survey of more than 500 chief executives by Chief Executive magazine ranked Indiana as the best place to do business in the Midwest and the fifth-best in the nation.
Gov. Mike Pence was appropriately enthusiastic: “On the heels of the largest state tax cut in Indiana history, this ranking is validation of the work we have done since day one to make Indiana the top jobs state in the country,” he said. “With our talented workforce, solid fiscal house and robust infrastructure, the Hoosier state’s job creation efforts are receiving national attention. Chief executives know that Indiana is one of the few states that actually works for business.”
Some might call that overly enthusiastic, especially those who keep calling for greater “investment” by the state.
The voters will approve value
In response to voter outcries over property tax growth, state lawmakers in 2008 established a referendum process for school construction projects or shoring up sagging general funds for districts. That brought strong protests from professional educators, who warned that people seldom vote to increase their own taxes.
That prediction has not quite come to pass, however. On ballots around Indiana on May 7, there were referendums for seven school districts, and five of them passed – and one of the two losing districts may seek a recount after its measure failed by only four votes. Those results reflect a growing success rate for the referendums. In the first two years, from November 2008 to November 2010, only 24 of 60 ballot initiatives, or 40 percent, passed. But since May 2011, voters have approved 18 of 28, or 64 percent.
Milestone for the abortion debate
In 1973, the Supreme Court abruptly changed the abortion debate with its Roe v. Wade decision permitting abortion on demand at least in the first trimester of pregnancy. Before that, the issue was being argued in state legislatures across the country. Suddenly, the argument was over and legal abortion became the default position. Pro-life advocates were reduced to fighting at the edges to make abortions more difficult to obtain.
Now, there has been another single event with equal debate-changing potential – the first-degree murder conviction of late-term-abortion provider Dr. Kermit Gosnell, whose grisly operation included killing babies who survived abortions by plunging scissors into their necks. It won’t change the law to an anti-abortion default, but it should strengthen the resolve of abortion foes who have felt themselves in an uphill struggle.
Should limit go to 0.05?
State Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, led the decade-long fight to lower the legal blood-alcohol limit for driving from 0.10 to 0.08. So his opinion carries some weight when he says a new recommendation from the National Traffic Safety Board to lower the limit to 0.05 won’t fly here – “nearly impossible” is the phrase he used. The 0.08 limit finally passed because the federal government was threatening to withhold huge amounts of transportation money if the change wasn’t made. This time around, there is no such pressure – yet.
This will disappoint those who say the country should have a goal of zero alcohol-impaired deaths, no matter what it takes.
But the rest of us can enjoy the luxury of a debate about costs and benefits without an impending deadline to rush our judgment.
Good move to pull charters
When Ball State University announced it would not renew the contracts of seven of its charter schools – including three in Fort Wayne – this newspaper received heartfelt letters to the editor from charter parents. Never mind the raw statistics, the letters usually said, our child has shown remarkable growth at the school.
“We are so grateful,” a typical letter from an Imagine MASTer Academy parent said, “we can send our daughter to a place where every student will always be treated with respect and cared for and kept safe as well as encouraged to excel academically.”
Now Ball State has made it official, pulling its sponsorship from all seven schools, including the five that had appealed the initial decision. Good for Ball State. As heartfelt as it might be, anecdotal evidence can never substitute for empirical reality.