[r79] In Lehman's Terms 4/4/09 (4/4/2009)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Start Date: 4/4/2009 All Day
End Date: 4/4/2009
Over the weekend I had several people ask about the R's vs D's basketball game. We prevailed in a hard fought contest 30-26.  That was our second win in a row but I came to find out that the current record is 7-2 in favor of the Dems.  One of the thrills was being able to play at Hinkle on Butler University's floor.  I felt like Ollie in Hoosiers.  Best of all no one was hurt so it was back to work on Tuesday

I use the "back to work" statement loosely.  While we are making progress in Bike Safety and other important issues we are still not debating the harder issue like the tax caps, unemployment and the budget.  As we near the end of this session these issue become more and more pressing and with each passing day there seems to be more and more delays.  The problem I see is that we will end up with some compromises that will be difficult to swallow. 

A new wrinkle this week was an announcement that the CIB (Capital Improvement Board) is 47 million dollars in the hole.  The CIB is the organization that operates Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse, Victory Field and the Convention Center.  My first reaction was that this is Indy's problem, let them fix it and I still kind of feel that way, but one part of the proposal calls for a statewide increase in the alcohol tax.  The new tax would double the current tax which is roughly another penny per beer, another 3 cents on wine and about 6 cents on a shot of liquor.  The good part about this proposal is that the revenue generated by the tax increase would stay in the cities and towns of the taxing district.  This would mean additional revenue for our local cities that are feeling the crunch of the tax caps causing lost revenue.  Decatur alone could receive $100,000 a year.  This is a tax that has not been raised since 1981.

Here is the problem.  We are doubling a tax to pay for a problem that we did not create.  While many of our counties are being crippled by double digit unemployment, stains on local charities and other stretches to our economic fiber, do we double a tax that will put more strain on businesses and the people who support them.  Many may look at this as a harmless tax because it is a "sin" tax and it won't affect me.  While this may be true what is coming next if this "fix" does not work.  My concern is the root of this problem - poor management of the CIB.  This is not our crisis.  Remember earlier I said the dilemma may be that this issue may get rolled into the budget or some other financial bill.  I am afraid that is the game that will be played out over the next couple of weeks as we near the end.  This will end up on a bill that I support and that will be the quandary.

We will be debating this issue this week and I would love to hear your views.  Please send me an e-mail at h79@in.gov with your opinions.  I would ask the question this way:

Do you support a tax increase on alcohol sales to support the Capital Improvement Board of Indianapolis as long as the tax revenue generated here stays in our community?

I would like to thank the people who attended our Third House town hall meetings on Saturday.  We had good turnouts in Geneva, Decatur and Bluffton.  Senator Holdman and I appreciate your input and look forward to more visits in the future.  I am trying to schedule a visit to Woodburn in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned.

Keeping things in Lehman's terms,
Rep. Matt Lehman