EDITORIAL: Democrats test public patience

IBJ Staff
March 19, 2011
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IBJ Editorial

Our legislators from the minority party are still in Illinois searching for an end game.

We hope they find one they’re happy with, but it’s a good bet they won’t—and their month-long disappearing act is looking more and more like a tactic that could have ended after a week.

The stalemate that sent Democrats across state lines more than four weeks ago started as a principled stand against a Republican overreach—the introduction of controversial “right-to-work” legislation that everyone knew could derail the session.

But it’s the Democrats who will be remembered for overreaching. They should have come home when Republicans agreed to take right-to-work off the table. Instead, Democrats decided to see how far their escape tactic would take them. If it could kill right-to-work, maybe they could use it to dismantle Gov. Daniels’ education-reform agenda.

That isn’t going to happen. Republicans have made a few concessions—reducing the size of a voucher program, for instance—but the education initiatives are still largely intact. Now the only stumbling block to getting all our legislators back in the same state is House Bill 1216, which would end the practice of requiring contractors on public works projects to pay union wages.

We’ve used this space in the past to call for an end to the practice, which has been a hot-button issue in the construction industry for decades. If there’s any issue worth continued disruption of the legislative process, this isn’t it.

After a month of inaction at the Statehouse, it’s hard to see how this can end well for Democrats. If they haven’t found a face-saving end game yet, chances are good it doesn’t exist. Best to come back, take their lumps, and get to work on the state budget.

The longer they stay away, the better the chance this session will linger into May—or longer. And we’ll all know who’s responsible for prolonging the agony of watching our Legislature at work.

Rolls-Royce to the rescue

Eli Lilly and Co. is usually the city’s ace. Our most important corporate citizen and the Lilly Endowment its stock fuels have bestowed on us countless blessings.

Not this time. When the pharmaceutical giant retrenched, paring its local work force, the lights went out on more than 400,000 square feet of office space at Lilly’s Faris campus. The emptying of the complex at 450 S. Meridian St. left a big hole in the downtown office market.

Enter Rolls-Royce, which announced March 15 that it will fill that space with 2,500 employees. The global aircraft engine-maker’s decision to consolidate its far-flung local office at Faris is a welcome commitment to Indianapolis. And the influx of Rolls-Royce staff will add vibrancy to a downtown that remains important to the entire region yet vulnerable to disinvestment.

A tide of well-paid workers lifts many boats—from small businesses and their employees to real estate developers who’ve placed bets, sometimes with public money, that downtown is the place to be.•


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