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Republicans deal Dems new hand with revised Rebuild Indy 2

June 6, 2014

Indianapolis Republicans think they have an infrastructure financing plan that Democrats can't refuse.

Mayor Greg Ballard announced Friday morning that a revised, slightly less ambitious Rebuild Indy 2 proposal will be introduced at the June 23 City-County Council meeting and co-sponsored by 13 Republicans.

That would leave just two votes for the minority party to gather to finally pass a version of the plan that Ballard unveiled last summer. Initially the proposal was co-sponsored by Democratic Council President Maggie Lewis and Minority Leader Michael McQuillen, but it's been held up by the council's public works committee.

The new plan calls for $300 million in infrastructure improvements, down from the $350 million originally proposed. It would be financed in part by a $105 million bond issue, down from the earlier $150 million.

McQuillen said the plan would address Democrats' concerns by scaling back the life of the bond issue from 30 years to 20 years. Also, Republicans are guaranteeing that $12 million will be spent in each of the 25 council districts with input from each representative, he said.

"I'm guessing we're going to be able to come together in the middle here and get this done," McQuillen said.

Democrats issued a statement Monday saying that  the majority party was preparing to unveil its own alternative. Vernon Brown, chairman of the public works committee, said Friday that plan was still forthcoming, and that he'd like to have the committee consider both plans and perhaps reach a compromise.

Brown declined to comment on the revision of Rebuild Indy 2 that Ballard announced Monday because he wasn't familiar with it. "I would have liked to be involved in the conversation from the beginning," he said.

The parties sparred over infrastructure spending this spring, but $16 million for emergency repairs passed the council on a bipartisan vote Monday night. Department of Public Works Director Lori Miser said there isn't likely enough time left in the construction season to spend all of the money this year.

Republican Ginny Cain, a member of the public works committee, voted against the measure Monday night because she said the source of funding wouldn't allow the city to leverage federal matching grants. She said she'd prefer to use the money that would be borrowed under Rebuild Indy 2.

Brown, who likes to have the last word in debate, equated the mayor's plan to make-believe. "I know that Councilor Cain believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Rebuild Indy 2," he said.

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