New Wishard gets overwhelming approval in referendum

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Supporters of a new hospital for Wishard Health Services declared victory Tuesday night after voters overwhelmingly backed the $754 million project in a special election.

With more than 50 percent of precincts reporting results as of early Wednesday morning, 83 percent of voters had approved the referendum backing the project. More than 40,000 votes had been counted.

Typically, taxpayers vote on such referenda when city leaders want to raise taxes to fund a new project. That’s not the case for Wishard, which has advanced a plan to pay for the new hospital with no tax increase. Wishard wants taxpayers to guarantee bonds it plans to sell so it can get much lower interest rates for the project.

Wishard parent organization Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County wants to sell $703 million in bonds to replace the aging complex at 10th Street and University Boulevard. The hospital corporation already has saved $150 million to apply toward the $754 million project, and it hopes to raise another $50 million from donors.

“I know of no other public project in the history of our state where a public entity has been able to save $150 million as a down payment of a project,” said Health and Hospital Corp. CEO Matt Gutwein before the election.

Gutwein was joined by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard in proclaiming victory in the special election Tuesday night even before half the vote was tallied.

"These referendum results confirm our city’s commitment to ensuring that all our residents have access to high quality health care,” Gutwein said in a written statement. "A historic coalition came together to support Wishard. We are deeply appreciative of their leadership in supporting this project, and to the voters, who offered the most resounding confirmation with each of their sacred ballots, we offer heartfelt thanks.”

Ballard said the referendum results meant thousands of jobs would be retained and created.

“While the focus has been on the care and teaching that Wishard provides, it’s important to note that the construction of the new hospital will create more than 4,400 jobs, maybe more over the course of the project,” said Ballard. “This means new work for many of our hard-working citizens who will put their training and expertise into building this great new facility.”

Gutwein has made more than 200 presentations in the last few months—including talks at four churches last Sunday—arguing that Wishard officials have built in such a large cushion for error, that the hospital will never have to fall back on taxpayers for help.

Selling the bonds now would take advantage of historically low interest rates, saving Wishard hundreds of millions of dollars, Gutwein estimates.

Wishard estimates its annual debt payments for the new hospital will be at least $38 million a year for 30 years. That’s 10 times higher than it currently spend on debt payments. But Gutwein noted that the higher payments still amount to only 4.25 percent of the hospital corporation’s budget.

Gutwein said his staff is ready to move immediately to launch the bond sale and start construction work on the new hospital site, which will rest between the Veteran’s Affairs hospital and the IUPUI campus, roughly on the site of the former Larue-Carter mental hospital.

Without an election victory, Gutwein said, “the most probable outcome would be that we would be required eventually to close Wishard.”


  • Job
    My name is Jeff and I am interested in a job building the new Wishard hospital, whom can I contact to apply ?
    Thank you for you help.
    317 717 0758
  • deferred taxes
    Where will the money eventually come from to pay back the nearly $1 billion "New Wishard" price tag to bond holders? Tax payers. If Wishard were solvent they would be able to fund their own upgrades. They will continue on as they have in the past and taxpayers will pay as the bonds come due. People are morons.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.