Shaw Friedman: So what's Sen. Hershman inhaling these days?
Thursday, March 27, 2014 10:50 AM
LaPORTE – Not quite sure, but I hope somebody checks the water down in Buck Creek to see what it is that State Sen. Brandt Herschman is drinking. Perhaps he’s inhaling something. How else to explain his over-the-top gushing about other states supposedly seeking to emulate Indiana when we do things like knocking out another business tax?
Never mind the fact that as we continue eliminating much-needed state revenues (this time $140 million lost with the corporate income tax reduction) we actually set ourselves behind our neighbors in our ability to offer business what it really wants and craves, a skilled and educated workforce, a quality transportation system and a cheap, dependable source of power.
In what fantasy world does Hershman believe there’s any evidence to support his claim after Senate Bill 1 passed that “other states are struggling to catch up with Indiana, many of them are trying emulate our leadership role, and I think through Senate Bill 1 we just put our business environment in overdrive and that’s going to create more jobs for Hoosiers.”
Only in Republicans’ make-believe, trickle-down world does this kind of thing happen. As House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath put so well, “Our leaders are selling soap we’ve bought before. Cutting corporate taxes again. Cutting bank taxes again. And the free toaster in the deal? Forcing Indiana counties to race each other to slash the business personal property tax.” Yet according to the Pew Charitable Trust, Indiana was one of the few states that didn’t even take the basic steps of assessing and evaluating its various tax incentives.
Senator, I rise on a point of order. Show me one convincing study that says other states want to emulate our approach of cutting services and slashing quality of life including infrastructure and think that aids our business environment.
As the Indianapolis Star editorialized last Dec. 29, our workforce is ranked 42nd in the country in educational attainment. Think other states want to emulate that? As that Star went on to opine, “What that means for the state and its residents is sobering: Lower incomes, fewer job opportunities, higher poverty rates, lower quality of life, less tax revenue to meet critical needs and weakened ability to adapt to increased competition from other states and nations.” That’s the real deal, Brandt, not the fantasy world you and your Senate Republican colleagues inhabit.
Think I’m just another Democratic progressive howling at the moon? Let’s look at what Indiana Supreme Court Justice Loretta Rush, a Republican appointed by Gov. Pence had to say about our current status compared to other states. The justice, who chairs Indiana’s newly formed Commission for Improving the Status of Children, recently delivered several compelling statistics to an attentive audience in Goshen. Cause for great concern, she said, are these: Indiana is fifth highest in the nation for children abusing prescription drugs, the state ranks third in the country for infant mortality, fewer than 3 percent of our abused or neglected kids ever go on to college.
As our publisher, Brian Howey, put so well in his weekly column, “What do we have to show for all of these business tax cuts? There are still 209,000 on the jobless rolls which doesn’t include the tens of thousands so discouraged they no longer can be counted.”
Counties like mine, Brandt, still are seeing 9 percent unemployment and your trickle down theories of throwing tax breaks at the wealthiest and most profitable multistate and multinational corporations with no strings attached have done nothing to generate new jobs.
Conservatives like Brandt Hershman don’t believe we should provide assistance to the poor or unemployed without multiple strings attached, but they have no compunction about showering one tax break or another for big banks or big utilities with no questions asked and think that will magically create jobs.
Worse yet is for these public officials to delude themselves into thinking that Indiana is somehow to be emulated by other states or that some want to learn our “magic formula.”
Come on up to LaPorte County from Buck Creek, Senator, and see how your trickle-down magic is playing in the rest of Indiana.
Shaw Friedman is former legal counsel for the Indiana Democratic Party and a longtime HPI columnist.