Fiscal Policy Institute board to retrench

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About three months after the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute quietly closed its doors, the board has decided to make a comeback with a new leader charged with fewer duties.

Board President Bob Kraft said the organization hopes to hire an executive director – who will oversee research and policy development – by February. Fund raising for the struggling IFPI likely will be outsourced.

Former CEO Steve Johnson resigned when the overlapping responsibilities became overwhelming. The 20-year-old institute focused on researching the impact of state taxing and spending policies.

In September, Johnson told IBJ that he couldn’t generate enough financial interest from corporations and other potential sources of funding to keep the organization operating.

“Oftentimes, the corporate community is more interested in what can happen in the next legislative session than what will happen three to five years down the road,” Johnson said at the time.

Kraft hopes to land a new leader quickly so the organization can be involved in next year’s historic debate over property tax reform and local government reorganization. He said the institute most likely will not rehire Johnson; Johnson has gone in “another direction,” Kraft said.

“If ever there were a time the institute could play an important role, it’s right now,” Kraft said. “It’s a shame we can’t be in a place to sustain ourselves and have somebody in place [immediately]. But we don’t want to cheapen our product to meet a deadline.”

The institute has hired Bose Public Affairs Group to perform day-to-day duties, and start a new membership committee and an executive search committee. Bose will oversee immediate needs, such as the filing of tax forms and the formal preparation of board minutes.

Bose eventually might be hired to handle fund raising, Kraft said.

Kraft stressed that the board is committed to resurrecting the organization because an independent, non-partisan voice is critical to advancing the policy debate in the Indiana Statehouse.

“Something will come back,” he said. “Whether it’s the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute in a reconstituted form or a new organization that emerges from the ashes, I think the demand is out there and the need is out there. It will be met in one form or another.”?

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