Government

EYE ON THE PIE: Many Hoosier counties losing peopleRestricted Content

March 31, 2008
Morton Marcus
The phone rang. It was Bella Coase, outraged again. She said, "The Census Bureau's county population estimates were mistreated by most Hoosier newspapers. They emphasized their counties as if population change were a sporting event. "They didn't bother to examine the larger view," Bella went on. "Only 56 of Indiana's 92 counties grew in population between 2006 and 2007. Spencer County had no change and the remaining 35 lost population. Doesn't it trouble you that nearly 40 percent of Hoosier...
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Construction in the Fast Lane: Flush with Major Moves funding, INDOT streamlines its approachRestricted Content

March 31, 2008
Chris O\'malley
Northern Indiana motorists and Democratic opponents of Gov. Mitch Daniels were screaming bloody murder. Daniels in 2006 convinced the Legislature to lease the vital highway and plum of political patronage-the Indiana Toll Road-to an Australian-Spanish consortium for nearly $4 billion. Some managers at the Indiana Department of Transportation also were screaming-with panic. Despite winning the departmental lottery of all time-an annual budget for new roads would now quadruple from $213 million a year to $874 million by 2015-Daniels wanted 200...
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New utility consumer counselor is no stranger: Former Ameritech lawyer may have to reach out and touch consumer watchdogsRestricted Content

March 31, 2008
Chris O\'malley
Consumer groups didn't get a ponytailed zealot to head the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor. No surprise there. Gov. Mitch Daniels has been fond of appointing ex-industry insiders to lead agencies charged with monitoring those same industries. What the OUCC gets in former Ameritech attorney David Stippler is, at the very least, a man who already knows the utility industry in Indiana. The Evansville native has argued before its regulatory agencies for many years. "They don't have to forge a...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Final version of tax reform deserving of accoladesRestricted Content

March 24, 2008
Mike Hicks
The practice of economics certainly can compel a man to cynicism. Take, for example, tax reform. I've testified on tax reform before legislatures in three states and one foreign country. Each had much bigger tax problems than does Indiana. Today, in each of those places, several solid proposals languish under the assault of special interests, much to the chagrin of taxpayers. Here in Indiana, the story is different. The past few months have seen reasoned and informed debate on property...
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STATEHOUSE DISPATCH: Full impact of tax reform won't be known for yearsRestricted Content

March 24, 2008
Ed Feigenbaum
The 2008 legislative session is history, and makes history with a property tax reform package that goes a long way toward Gov. Mitch Daniels' goal of enacting one that is fair, final and farreaching. Give him the lion's share of the credit for establishing the philosophical and practical framework. Majority House Democrats didn't propose their own property tax plan, but they largely embraced the governor's plan and successfully played a few new strategic riffs that Republicans found didn't disrupt the...
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Mortgage blues haven't hit all: Some firms are holding their own despite housing, credit slumpRestricted Content

March 24, 2008
Scott Olson
The local office of Cleveland-based KeyBank has hired a banking veteran to lead a revamped mortgage department that will boast a larger sales force. And locally based mortgage firm Signature Group recently completed construction of its new headquarters and added three brokers. In this climate of ballooning foreclosures and rising interest rates, one might wonder whether executives of the aforementioned institutions are reading the wrong spreadsheets. To the contrary, despite the gloomy picture monthly housing statistics paint, they are among...
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Tax reform fallout worries biz interestsRestricted Content

March 24, 2008
Peter Schnitzler
Property tax reform is now Indiana law. Hoosier homeowners are thrilled. But many corporate leaders grumble the historic deal was brokered on the backs of business. Topping their concerns is the new 3-percent property tax cap for commercial and industrial properties, which they fear will slow business expansions and discourage companies from moving headquarters to the state.
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Foreclosures keep 'em busy: Bankruptcy attorneys, credit counselors seeing surge in clientsRestricted Content

March 24, 2008
Scott Olson
Many consumer bankruptcies typically can be traced to a divorce, job loss or medical issue. Now another perpetrator-subprime mortgages-is entering the fray. The fallout from the housing crisis, coupled with a weakening economy, is contributing to a rise in bankruptcy filings nationwide. They spiked more than 30 percent in January compared with the same time last year, according to the Virginia-based American Bankruptcy Institute. With more than 1 million subprime mortgages due to reset this year, ABI Executive Director Samuel...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: New tax break makes Indiana more attractive than everRestricted Content

March 17, 2008
Cedric D\'hue
Rapid growth in the high-tech fields of biotechnology and life science has made Indiana a shining example of how promoting emerging industries can transform an agricultural and manufacturingbased economy into a national leader in innovation. It has done so by creating an environment in which knowledge-based businesses can thrive. Building on this success, Indiana continues to position itself as a leader in emerging technologies. A new tax law that took effect this year will present another major step toward this...
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ICVA calls in headhunter to help fill top post: Experts say job should draw wide interestRestricted Content

March 17, 2008
Jennifer Whitson
A nationally renowned headhunter is tracking down candidates to fill the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association's top job in hopes of having a new president in place by June 1. Industry observers expect plenty of applicants given an upcoming hospitality building spree. "This is potentially the chance of a lifetime for someone to come in and make a huge difference," said Amanda Cecil, an assistant professor in IUPUI's Convention and Event Management Department. She called the Indianapolis market a "gold...
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STATEHOUSE DISPATCH: Lawmakers left lots of touchy issues for waning daysRestricted Content

March 17, 2008
Ed Feigenbaum
As we prepared this column at midweek, there still was no certainty about a property tax relief and reform package resulting from the regular session, set to adjourn sine die March 14. While some lawmakers were proclaiming no hope of enacting a package before time expired in the regular session, others were seeing movement toward a plan that was structured largely along the lines of the original package offered by Gov. Mitch Daniels. Democrats altered strategy as the scheduled adjournment...
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Hoosier Heartland Highway pumps up hope on prairie: Expressway construction starting two years earlyRestricted Content

March 17, 2008
Chris O\'malley
LAFAYETTE-For years, they've driven on little more than paved-over wagon trails pioneers carved into the hills nestling the Wabash River. Motorists on State Road 25 between Logansport and Lafayette have grown desperate for a replacement: the final, 33-mile western leg of the "Hoosier Heartland Highway." Today, the Hoosier Heartland expressway ends in Logansport-the western terminus of a newly improved, four-lane U.S. 24 that runs east, to Fort Wayne. But last month Gov. Mitch Daniels surprised highway proponents with word that...
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RETURN ON TECHNOLOGY: Just when you thought airport lines couldn't get any longerRestricted Content

March 17, 2008
Tim Altom
This isn't a column about business technology per se, but I couldn't resist the temptation to write about a half-dozen states thumbing their noses at the federal government and potentially backing up travel this spring at airports all over the country, including some of the world's busiest, all over a piece of plastic. After the tragedy of 9/11, one of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations was to create a hard-to-fake identity card for Americans. In 2005, Congress passed a huge defense...
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NOTIONS: Variations on the theme of March MadnessRestricted Content

March 10, 2008
Bruce Hetrick
March Madness is upon us-that glorious season born in a Springfield, Mass., peach basket and now headquartered, literally and spiritually, in the Hoosier state. That means, of course, high-pressure conference tournaments; Big Dance brackets and pairings; controversial selections and exclusions; friendly wagers; blowouts; upsets; scoring runs; dry spells; lead changes; come-frombehind victories; heartbreaking defeats; and last-second, game-winning three-pointers. But in only the first week of the third month of the Gregorian calendar, it's clear-from personal life, to the recession (er...
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: How the property tax reform plans stacked upRestricted Content

March 10, 2008
Mike Hicks
As this year's short legislative session comes to a close, I want to recap the property tax proposals that were bandied about. I probably should begin with the problem. Though Hoosiers pay less in state and local taxes than most Americans, the growth in state and local tax bills has been way out of sorts with income growth. Also, in some places, property taxes are astoundingly high-and in the most expensive places, taxpayers are not getting anything like the value...
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STATEHOUSE DISPATCH: Thorny tax issues remain as scheduled adjournment nearsRestricted Content

March 10, 2008
Ed Feigenbaum
The closer we get to March 14, the date the 2008 legislative session is scheduled to end, the less optimistic people seem to be about reaching agreement on a property tax relief and reform package that will attract sufficient bipartisan support and be structured in a way that meets the requirements of Gov. Mitch Daniels for his signature. The biggest problems in private legislative negotiations appear to revolve around how to fund local government and school shortfalls, as well as...
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Commentary: When is the right time to sell?Restricted Content

March 10, 2008
Mickey Maurer
Like the song says, "You gotta know when to fold 'em." But how do you know when it is the proper time to sell a business? Age and health issues aside, I suggest the "trigger" moment is when there is a looming fundamental adverse change in the industry. One should not sell needlessly. The government imposes a harsh penalty for those transactions. It's called a longterm capital gains tax. I would not fault anyone, however, for a premature exit that...
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STATEHOUSE DISPATCH: Tax turmoil isn't likely to uproot many legislatorsRestricted Content

March 3, 2008
Ed Feigenbaum
Remember the main reason behind the property-tax-reform drive when we started the session? If the anti-propertytax rallies across the state last summer and fall made lawmakers uneasy, the Indianapolis mayoral election result was a slap across the face. They were awakened to the reality that, but for a vote on tax reform, that, too, could be them. The political imperative was overwhelming, as lawmakers feared the worst come primary time. Even if they were to survive an intra-party election, they...
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Insurance insecurities: Data-breach policies touted as way to protect businesses from cyber-related lossesRestricted Content

March 3, 2008
Scott Olson
Several local entities, ranging from St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital to the state of Indiana to Indianapolis Public Schools, last year experienced wellpublicized electronic security breaches involving confidential data. While the victims of the lapses and those at fault emerged relatively unscathed, such incidents underscore the ease in which personal information can be lost or stolen in today's computerized world. With roughly 165 million people tapping into to the Internet nationally, the opportunities for security breaches are plentiful. Throw in the...
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Bill to help prosecution of environmental crimes dies: State continues to use fines as feds seek jail timeRestricted Content

March 3, 2008
Chris O\'malley
A bill that would have removed hurdles to state and local prosecution of environmental crimes has perished in committee, leaving the federal government virtually alone as the sole seeker of jail time for the worst offenders. With the demise of Senate Bill 199, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management will continue to resolve most pollution cases through civil penalties rather than bringing criminal charges. Last year, IDEM assessed $5.2 million in civil penalties, down from $7.75 million in 2006 but...
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STATEHOUSE DISPATCH: Nitty-gritty details yet to be resolved in tax-reform planRestricted Content

February 25, 2008
Ed Feigenbaum
We've come a long way since the beginning of this legislative session, and lawmakers are edging closer to assembling a property tax reform acceptable to both chambers, both major parties and the governor. Lawmakers faced competing pressures from constituents, the governor, business interests, schools and local governments, and citizen groups as they tackled the issue, but they resolved to labor with a minimum of partisanship. Of course, they frequently make the same pledge when dealing with major issues, but an...
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Office tower bounces back: Renovated National City Center recovering from loss of SimonRestricted Content

February 25, 2008
Scott Olson
Once reeling from the loss of its largest tenant, National City Center now has a rising occupancy rate amid a major renovation that is resuscitating the aging office building. Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc. vacated 182,000 square feet in National City Center by moving to its new headquarters a block away in the fall of 2006. The departure left the 16-story tower at the southwest corner of Washington and Illinois streets 28-percent unoccupied after years of being nearly full. Owner...
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Bond market turmoil could raise costs for stadium, other projectsRestricted Content

February 25, 2008
Peter Schnitzler
The debt strategy Gov. Mitch Daniels' top financial officials developed to save the state money on major projects like Lucas Oil Stadium has turned sour.
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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Study exposes unfortunate work-force realitiesRestricted Content

February 25, 2008
Mike Hicks
For more than a half-century, we have built complex statistical models to attempt to explain why regions enjoy different levels of prosperity. Virtually every conceivable variable-from ethno-linguistic similarity indexes to existing natural resources to government structures-have been tried, with the models proving enormously successful. One critical insight in this extensive body of research is that human capital-the quality of a labor force-yields the strongest explanation for differences in prosperity. When we apply these models to the United States, the importance...
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VOICES FROM THE INDUSTRY: Protestors shouldn't control community developmentRestricted Content

February 25, 2008
Brian Mann
N e i g h b o r h o o d activists in Pittsburgh are fighting a development that would bring a grocery store, job training center, youth programs and other social services to the area of the Pittsburgh Penguins' $290 million arena. The Pittsburgh group was planning a march in protest. Is retail and commercial development next to a sports arena a bad idea? A Cambridge, Mass., neighborhood group was opposed to the development of three townhomes, arguing...
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