IBJOpinion

EDITORIAL: Legislators need to create jobs, not kill them

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IBJ Editorial

We’ve heard plenty since the November election about what we should expect out of our elected officials. Our Legislature, we were told, would be all about jobs in 2011. Fiscal responsibility and education reform are front and center—but they are merely a means to the same end: jobs.

Sadly, a legislative body supposedly focused on job creation continues to willfully disregard the advice of the very business community that is expected to create those jobs.

The advice from business? Steer clear of immigration reform and gay marriage legislation. Those issues don’t advance job creation, they hurt it.

The response? Legislation dealing with immigration and marriage is sailing through the General Assembly. Our lawmakers’ professed love for job creation apparently has its limits.

Senate Bill 590 would give Indiana an immigration law on par with the controversial Arizona law. It would open the door to racial and ethnic profiling by police, creating an atmosphere of intolerance that business leaders say is inconsistent with participating in the global economy.

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar told a Senate committee his organization is concerned the bill would hurt economic development in the state.

Cummins Inc. President Tim Solso advanced that notion in an opinion piece in The Indianapolis Star. Solso said Cummins, which has a global footprint and is one of the state’s largest employers, can’t grow in a state with a reputation for intolerance. He noted that 30 percent of the company’s Indiana work force was born outside the United States, including almost 700 from India, China and Mexico—any of whom could be subject to questioning by law enforcement officials if the bill becomes law.

The bill also amounts to a fiscal threat. Attorney General Greg Zoeller says defending its constitutionality could cost the state millions.

We wish legislators would listen to reason and reverse course on what could be a costly, job-killing bill. Pressure the federal government to secure U.S. borders, but don’t put Hoosier jobs and resources at risk in the process.

Not a single job will be created by writing a gay-marriage ban into the state constitution. Yet some are pursuing that tired cause once again in spite of objections from the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and some employers that it will alienate talented employees—who happen to be gay.

The definition of marriage bill has legs this year thanks to the Legislature’s Republican majority, but the version of the bill that passed the House goes beyond the stated goal of its sponsors, which is to protect the institution of marriage. The bill would also prohibit anything resembling marriage. That part of the bill could jeopardize existing policies under which some companies extend benefits to their unmarried employees’ domestic partners, both gay and straight.

If sponsors of this bill are truly concerned only about the institution of marriage, why does the legislation overreach?

Republicans should stick to what they’ve historically been known for: limited government and fiscal responsibility. Both are good for the economy. Making life difficult for businesses and their employees is not.•

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To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.

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  • Yeah.
    More on the Indiana ban on gay marriage:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AAXf7nAo2Fs

    Makes good points.
  • Needs more teeth
    Enough with the "we wish they would..." stuff. This is an opinion piece, so have an opinion. Not only that, tell people what they can do if they agree with your opinion. Is there a hearing we could attend? Does writing to your representatives help? If it passes, can it be repealed? How? Can we pressure the governor to veto any of this? I'm tired of playing dead for the Republicans in Indiana.
  • Cummins
    And, it should also be noted that Cummins Inc. was one of the first (if not THE first) company in the state to extend domestic partner benefits to its employees. Thank you Cummins for being an inclusive company. We need more leaders in the state like Tim Solso.

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