Opinion and Editorials

EDITORIAL: Mayor must sign road, benefits measures

August 18, 2012

The Indianapolis City-County Council might be dawdling on expansion of the city’s tax-increment-financing districts, but, commendably, it has adopted two other proposals that Mayor Greg Ballard should sign.

On Aug. 13 it approved by a 20-8 vote a proposal to provide health care benefits to the domestic partners of city employees. The bipartisan support with which the proposal passed is a good sign that offering such benefits is seen more as a common-sense policy measure and less as a political wedge issue.

In passing the measure, the council pushed Indianapolis closer to joining Carmel, Lawrence, numerous other states and cities across the country, and some of the state’s largest corporations in offering such benefits.

Though the number of employees who take advantage of such benefits is relatively small in most workplaces, making health insurance available to unmarried partners sends a signal that an employer welcomes families of all kinds and wants to attract the best talent available.

Indianapolis should be firmly in that camp.

Now it’s up to Ballard to make sure that happens. The policy used to be a lightning rod for critics who were opposed to any recognition of same-sex couples. Now, in an odd twist, the mayor is on the fence about signing the measure because it also would apply to heterosexual couples. The mayor worries the benefit could become a disincentive to marry.

We’re not convinced there are couples in Marion County who would base the decision to marry on the city’s benefits policy, but if they exist their numbers surely aren’t substantial enough to merit a mayoral veto.

It’s a safer bet that Ballard will sign another measure passed by the council on Aug. 13. The Indianapolis Complete Streets ordinance won unanimous support from the council, which got behind a common-sense policy that has had a harder time winning the support of state legislators.

Complete Streets requires that cars not be the only consideration when new or reconstructed thoroughfares are designed. Now, in Indianapolis at least, projects will also be designed to accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists and public transportation.

The policy is an appropriate departure from an era when almost everything was created with the automobile in mind. Complete streets are safer and encourage a variety of modes of transportation.

It’s not exactly a radical way of thinking. Yet state legislators have failed to act when the issue has come up in recent sessions. Maybe 2013 will be the year all Hoosier communities are forced to recognize that there’s more than one way to travel.•

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

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