Articles

Supporters predict passage of waiver bill: Measure would allow uninsured to sign up for health care policies that exclude some pre-existing conditions

Indiana is one of only a few states in which individuals cannot agree to waive coverage for pre-existing conditions in order to get at least some type of health insurance. That could change this year, however. Dueling bills in front of the Legislature have passed out of the House and Senate and are being considered by the opposite chamber. Rep. Gerald Torr, R-Carmel, authored one of the measures and is confident some form of his legislation will pass. The object…

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INDOT chief’s changes altered contract decision: Insider alleges Nicol favored Kernan contributor

Former Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner J. Bryan Nicol changed official recommendations of INDOT’s design division, according to an INDOT source, a move that sent millions of dollars of work to major contributors to former Gov. Joe Kernan’s campaign. Two days after last fall’s election, INDOT consultant services manager Jeffrey Clanton said he was ordered by then-commissioner Nicol to make a number of changes to a July 29, 2004, selection list. On seven of the 24 different projects on the…

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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: Michigan’s job pain is felt throughout the Midwest

At the end of last year, the unemployment rate in Michigan was 7.3 percent. That was more than 2 percentage points higher than Indiana’s. No state in the country had a higher jobless rate. That’s not a big story in the Hoosier State. We have our own economic challenges, after all. But perhaps we should be paying a bit more attention. We’re not exactly immune to the forces that are dealing such harsh blows to the Michigan economy right now….

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Studies: Bans don’t burn biz: Restrictions in other cities didn’t reduce overall sales, but some taverns were hurt

“My business was down 15 percent at first,” recalled Gina Scott, co-owner of the Lexington pub. Lately, she added, “It’s still down a bit. I don’t know with the ban it will ever go up to where it was.” This ban-in the heart of tobacco country-may offer a glimpse of what’s to come for Indianapolis bars and restaurants if proponents of a smoking ban prevail in the City-County Council. The proposed Indianapolis ordinance is one of the most stringent in…

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EYE ON THE PIE: Focus on expenses, not revenue, in state budget

In fewer than 700 words, I’m going to tell the story of how we finance government in Indiana. It’s my belated valentine to the Indiana General Assembly. The data are for 2001-2002, but things don’t change much from year to year. Indiana governments had revenue of $34.2 billion in fiscal 2002. But forget about separating state and local government finances. It’s a fraudulent idea to talk about local taxes vs. state taxes. The two are totally intertwined. Localities can do…

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Eminent domain facing legal challenges: Supreme Court, Indiana legislature consider changes to economic development tool some say is unfairly used

The tool of eminent domain, increasingly used for redevelopment projects in Indiana cities and towns, could change significantly depending on the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court case and a bill before the Indiana General Assembly. In Indianapolis, city officials are closely watching the cases and legislation. In recent years, construction of WellPoint Inc.’s operations center, redevelopment of the Link-Savoy and Blacherne apartment buildings, and Fall Creek Place have all involved eminent domain. Officials have also indicated they may use…

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INVESTING: Reaching the unthinkable: $1T in revenue or market value

One trillion dollars. The only time you hear a number that big is when government spending is the subject. What if an American company were to hit $1 trillion in annual sales? How about an American company with a $1 trillion market value? Are these numbers possible? The largest company in the world by revenue is Wal-Mart, which did $285 billion in sales this year. A very big number. The biggest company in the world by valuation is General Electric,…

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NOTIONS: Blowing away the ‘I have my rights’ smokescreen

I’m looking out the window of the hospital room where my wife, Pam, is staying. It’s a beautiful day. Soft white clouds dot the brilliant sky. In the courtyard below, between the hospital and the cancer center, a young woman sits on a bench. She’s pretty, in her sleek leather jacket and tight jeans. Her auburn hair glistens in the sun and brushes her shoulders in the breeze. In one hand, she holds a Palm Pilot. I imagine she’s reading…

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CHRIS KATTERJOHN Commentary: Does good biz mean good guv?

CHRIS KATTERJOHN Commentary Does good biz mean good guv? It’s already crystal clear that Gov. Mitch Daniels intends to live up to his promise to shake things up in Indiana government. It’s even clearer that he believes the people who will help him succeed in doing so are people who have been successful in business. I’m guessing a large number of IBJ readers are eating this up. For as long as I can remember, businesspeople have complained about government bureaucracy…

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STATEHOUSE DISPATCH: Tax talk begins to make Republican lawmakers hinky

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this session’s first five weeks has been all the talk about imposing or raising taxes. A surfeit of Republicans ran for assorted offices last year complaining about the condition of the state budget, but pledged to bring it back into balance by attacking fraud and waste, and simply cutting more programs. Many Democrats who ran against them acknowledged budget “issues,” but suggested they could be managed and the budget would not be balanced on…

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ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: New metropolitan areas redefine economic data

This month marks the first important use of the recently redefined Metropolitan Statistical Areas for Indiana. When we receive our first glimpse of state employment information for the new year, the Department of Workforce Development will include three new MSAs in its tables: Anderson, Columbus and Michigan City. And most of the existing metro areas, including Indianapolis, will see significant changes in their geographic composition. In general terms, these changes are easy to explain. We are a mobile population and,…

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NOTIONS: Must we all inhale the toxic air of hypocrisy?

Here’s what I want you to do: Take your left index finger and place it on your chin. Now, slide it along your jaw up to your left ear. Now slide it straight down your neck. When you’ve reached the base, slide your finger outward, halfway to your shoulder. Now, imagine that instead of a fingertip, you employ a head-and-neck surgeon with a scalpel. And imagine that after slicing your jaw and neck, he pulls down the resulting flap of…

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EYE ON THE PIE Morton Marcus: Time for a tax strategy to boost retail

It is time to recognize the role of retail trade in economic development. Too often, we follow the notion that a community grows only because it exports. That which we mine, grow, harvest or manufacture is an acknowledged part of the economic base. It brings in dollars from outside. In some communities, we recognize tourism, medical and other specialized services as part of that export base. Just a few places see retail trade as a means of economic development. Yes,…

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INDOT spends millions with little oversight: Critics charge state’s failure leads to poor work

More than half of the $8 billion spent by the Indiana Department of Transportation on construction over the last decade went to only 10 construction companies. The same is true of the hundreds of millions spent on consulting. Ten design and engineering firms got 56 percent of all of the money contracted by INDOT-more than $155 million over the last 12 years. The large sums of money concentrated in a relatively small number of recipients has raised alarms for some…

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EYE ON THE PIE: County income taxes need simplification

How is anyone supposed to understand the tax maze created by our beloved General Assembly? For example, we have three local option income taxes. The revenue is collected by the state and sent back to the county where the taxpayer resides. These taxes enable counties to lower property taxes, pay for needed local services and lift themselves through the miracles of economic-development efforts. The idea is wonderful, but who can understand these taxes? First, there is CAGIT (the county adjusted…

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Special Report: MURKY MISSION: Vague directive dilutes 21st Century Fund’s high-tech impact

When directors of Indiana’s 21st Century Research and Technology Fund convened in May 2003, they’d already doled out $70 million in state grants over three years to fund h i g h – t e c h innovation a n d w e r e preparing to u n l e a s h another $60 million. But you wouldn’t know it after reading minutes from that meeting. They show a rollicking debate broke out over the 21st Century’s Fund’s…

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CHRIS KATTERJOHN Commentary: Legislature has big responsibility

CHRIS KATTERJOHN Commentary Legislature has big responsibility We stand on the threshold of greatness. Wait; let me say that again. “We stand on the threshold of greatness.” Now, say it to yourself, making sure to insert a pregnant pause after the word “stand” and imagining you hear it in the booming radio voice of FDR. It’s one of those platitudes that could’ve been contrived by a speechwriter for any number of inaugural addresses, including those of Franklin D. Roosevelt, John…

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INVESTING: Merger activity no harbinger, but better market coming

On Jan. 28, Procter and Gamble agreed to pay $52 billion to acquire Gillette. Days later, SBC Communications Corp. bought AT&T for $16 billion. The track record of merger-and-acquisition activity on Wall Street leaves a lot to be desired. Most of the mergers involving large operations fail to generate anywhere near the returns management promises. But as soon as I heard about the P&G deal, I thought a lot of things make sense here. First of all, neither one of…

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STATEHOUSE DISPATCH: Telecom regulation takes center stage at Statehouse

While this session will, necessarily and constitutionally, be all about the budget, you can expect a few interesting stops during the long journey to that point. Even as the House Ways and Means Committee was hearing last week from assorted state agencies about their respective budget needs, other lawmakers were hearing from Hoosiers more interested in altering state policy than what the state’s fiscal bottom line might be. And just like the governor will be distracted this week-as he should…

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Portal plan targets humanities teachers: Technology offers access to data, lesson-planning

The Indiana Humanities Council wants to open a new doorway for teachers around the state. IHC has begun testing a trial version of an education-portal program called Smart-Desktop at six central Indiana schools, including three from IPS. The goal of the program is to help teachers teach traditional humanities subjects such as history, social science and literature more efficiently and effectively, said John Keller, teacher-designer and coordinator of K-12 development for the Smart-Desktop initiative. Starting Feb. 1, more than 30…

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