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Indianapolis resentment

January 18, 2010

Nearly a week has passed since the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute released a study showing urban counties in the state pay more in state taxes than they receive in benefits. In effect, tax revenue flows from cities to rural areas, Ball State University found.

The methodology has been criticized, mainly by people living in rural counties, but the results reflect similar studies in other states.

The study has both confirmed what people in the Indianapolis area have said for a long time—that funding flows are reasonably equitable—and rekindled discussion about the perpetual resentment toward Indianapolis.

State Rep. Bob Behning, a Plainfield Republican, says anti-Indianapolis sentiment is running at about the same fairly high level as when he was elected to the office in 1993. Behning’s District 91 includes parts of Marion and Morgan counties as well as a section of Hendricks County, which was second behind Vanderburgh County in paying more tax than it received.

He witnessed Indianapolis resentment surfacing again during the competition between Marian University in Indianapolis and Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion over the new osteopathic medical school snagged by Marian. One representative from the Marion area suggested Indiana Wesleyan should have gotten it because “Indianapolis has so many things, why don’t we share,” Behning recalls.

“Because people come from varied backgrounds in different communities, there will always be jealousy,” he says. However, Behning adds that Indianapolis is perceived as dragging too many of its problems, such as the Capital Improvement Board’s financial mess, to the doors of the Statehouse.

Nevertheless, he believes most of the resentment is unjustified. Indianapolis gets lots of attention because of its size and the unique issues it contends with—professional sports, for example. And for those same reasons it will for a long time to come.

What’s your take? Does the Indianapolis area get more than its fair share of the pot from the General Assembly? Are there legitimate reasons for the resentment?


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