After listening to the testimony during the June 5 City-County Council committee meeting, and speaking with both supporters and opponents of the proposed domestic partner benefits, I noticed a common theme of “this will make Indianapolis more competitive.” This is untrue.
The analysis presented to the City-County councilors was that only 1 percent of all city workers would take advantage of this benefit. Actually, it was not any kind of analysis, but simply taking the numbers from a generic research publication. Nobody knows how many people would benefit.
If we use the 1 percent figure, it would benefit an estimated 27 people. Taxpayers would spend upward of $200,000 per year to help 27 people.
We could refurbish a city pool for $200,000, helping the children of an entire neighborhood. We could hire, train and outfit two more police officers, which would help protect more than 27 people.
However, when talking about competitiveness, we are talking about potential employees—people who might work for the city but would not because the benefit was not there. The 27 people estimated by the proponents are already working for the city, so obviously this was not an impediment for them to join city government.
So how many potential employees are we talking about? Looking at the city’s job opportunities website, I found 29 openings. Granted, this does not include all openings with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Indianapolis Fire Department and other city entities. To be fair, if we used the average turnover rate for state and local government workers (about 8 percent nationally), we would have about 215 openings per year in city government. Again, using the proponents’ 1 percent figure of people who would take advantage of this proposal, we come up with 2.2 people per year.
In other words, the council is debating spending $200,000 per year for the potential that two people might work for the city. Indianapolis may look more competitive to those two people, but any reasonable person would say the cost far outstrips the benefits.
Finally, how many faithful Christians, Jews and Muslims who believe this proposal is morally wrong will now avoid going to work for the city because of this?
In the end, the argument that [the] proposal would make us more competitive is strictly a convenient talking point.