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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  1. The $104K to CRC would go toward debts service on $486M of existing debt they already have from other things outside this project. Keystone buys the bonds for 3.8M from CRC, and CRC in turn pays for the parking and site work, and some time later CRC buys them back (with interest) from the projected annual property tax revenue from the entire TIF district (est. $415K / yr. from just this property, plus more from all the other property in the TIF district), which in theory would be about a 10-year term, give-or-take. CRC is basically betting on the future, that property values will increase, driving up the tax revenue to the limit of the annual increase cap on commercial property (I think that's 3%). It should be noted that Keystone can't print money (unlike the Federal Treasury) so commercial property tax can only come from consumers, in this case the apartment renters and consumers of the goods and services offered by the ground floor retailers, and employees in the form of lower non-mandatory compensation items, such as bonuses, benefits, 401K match, etc.

  2. $3B would hurt Lilly's bottom line if there were no insurance or Indemnity Agreement, but there is no way that large an award will be upheld on appeal. What's surprising is that the trial judge refused to reduce it. She must have thought there was evidence of a flagrant, unconscionable coverup and wanted to send a message.

  3. As a self-employed individual, I always saw outrageous price increases every year in a health insurance plan with preexisting condition costs -- something most employed groups never had to worry about. With spouse, I saw ALL Indiana "free market answer" plans' premiums raise 25%-45% each year.

  4. It's not who you chose to build it's how they build it. Architects and engineers decide how and what to use to build. builders just do the work. Architects & engineers still think the tarp over the escalators out at airport will hold for third time when it snows, ice storms.

  5. http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/duke-energy-customers-angry-about-money-for-nothing