EDITOR’S NOTE—Today, the Daily Journal presents a sampling of editorials from around the state and nation.
Next tax policy session must be based in reality
Tribune-Star, Terre Haute
Ear-pleasing promises are flowing fast on the 2012 campaign trail right now, with candidates hoping theirs hits the perfect pitch with voters. The problem is, those promises, if eventually implemented, may cause side effects the office seekers fail to mention or even consider.
In that atmosphere, it was heartening to hear Indiana Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma inject some sensibility into the discourse about more tax cuts, promised by the top two candidates for governor. Republican Mike Pence proposes a 10-percent cut in personal income taxes. Democrat John Gregg wants to cut the sales tax on gasoline and the corporate income tax for businesses based in Indiana.
That sounds good to lots of people and entities who pay those particular taxes. Then again, so did the vows to install other tax cuts. Those reductions have already been approved by the Legislature, including a phase-out of the inheritance tax and a drop in the corporate income tax. Both measures will have an impact on state revenues.
Earlier this month, Bosma issued a reminder of those earlier legislative actions and warned of unhealthy results from slicing yet deeper. The speaker made his comments while unveiling the House Republicans’ agenda for the 2013 session, which could see the GOP with a super majority, depending on the election’s results. Even with a dominance by one party — the party known for tax frugality — the reductions envisioned by Pence and Gregg could face resistance.
The earlier reductions are real and are being felt by city and county services by local governments, as well as schools, including those in Terre Haute and Vigo County. Just last week, as the city of Terre Haute’s financial health and 2013 budget were being debated by city officials and the general public, Mayor Duke Bennett, a two-term Republican, expressed frustration about the loss of city revenue over the past few years because of Indiana’s property tax caps.
Of course, as Hoosiers have seen during the past two legislative sessions, Bosma can only guide but not control the actions of a body comprised of 60 fellow Republicans and 40 Democrats. That said, Bosma is in a position of some influence and power, and his acknowledgment of budget realities is helpful as Nov. 6 approaches. The agenda items he mentioned included greater access to preschool for low-income families, an emphasis on expanded and bolstered vocational training in high school and beyond — not as sexy as a tax cut, but prudent.
Justice up for retention faces rare challenge
The Star Press, Muncie.
Experts on elections often debate the merits of an informed voter. Let’s face it, many voters, if they’re honest, have no clue who they are voting for the farther down the ballot they go. Everyone knows who’s running for president, but local township advisory board?
Perhaps the most ill-informed vote appears at the very bottom of the ballot — retention of state Supreme Court and other justices. High court justices up for retention appear every 10 years on the ballot in the form of a simple “yes” or “no” question. Most people check the “yes” box (if they bother to even vote at all) and leave the voting booth.
No justice from the state Supreme Court has been removed by voters since Indiana’s Constitution was amended in 1970 to require a vote of retention. If fact, justices are often retained by margins of 70 percent.
Could 2012 be an exception?
Opposition to Justice Steven David is getting organized. In case you forgot, he’s the justice who wrote an opinion stemming from a 3-2 decision asserting Hoosiers did not have the right to resist the police, even if officers illegally enter their homes. Critics said the 2011 decision violated Fourth Amendment rights.
Tea party activists, Libertarians and others are working to oust the justice. They face an uphill battle, and one that ought to fail.
Organizing a dump David effort will take Indiana in the wrong direction. A Facebook page to do just that has attracted 557 “likes” so far.
We have no problem with opposition organizing to oust a judge. That’s how things work in a democracy.
However, punishing a judge over a single decision lowers the status of the judicial process and can send a chilling message to other justices and judges. Indiana is better than that, and we think voters are smart enough to render their own correct decision.
Purdue engineering worth investing in
Journal & Courier, Lafayette
As Gov. Mitch Daniels makes his rounds, getting to know faculty, students and staff before he takes over at Purdue University’s next president, he’s talked about campus playing to its strengths.
A bold new plan announced this week by the College of Engineering certainly does that.
Over the next five years, Purdue’s engineering programs plan to hire more than 100 new professors to its roster of 358 now and bump up undergraduate enrollment by 10 percent.
According the Purdue, the additional investment in engineering could be worth up to $200 million.
That’s what we like to hear.
“Announcing to hire 100 new faculty at any institution will make a lot of people take notice,” Robert Green, president-elect of National Society of Professional Engineers, told the J&C’s Eric Weddle this week.
Purdue’s engineering program is no slouch now, of course. Applications are outpacing the slots open for students — which is a driver in this plan, Purdue officials say.
But imagine the payoff of a degree from Purdue once it ramps up efforts to recruit top names in research and in teaching.
And imagine the spinoff benefits to Greater Lafayette with more, well-paying jobs and additional faculty on campus doing the sort of research that could lead to business opportunities down the line.
Keep aiming high in engineering, Purdue.
The Indianapolis Star. Oct. 11, 2012.
Indiana University’s tuition freeze is a welcome move
Indiana University’s move this week to freeze tuition for juniors and seniors who are on track to graduate is a creative and welcome attempt to confront a problem that is overwhelming more and more students, not only in Indiana but across the nation.
In 2010, the most recent year in which data is available, IU graduates left Bloomington with an average debt of more than $27,000 from student loans. Such numbers might be manageable for new graduates in a few high-income professions, but for first-year teachers or social workers, the need to repay debt can be a crushing obligation.
IU’s decision won’t solve that problem entirely, of course. But it should help, and it’s the second such policy IU had adopted in recent years. Earlier, the university approved a steep discount on summer school tuition.
Both moves also provide students with a strong financial incentive to stay on course to graduate within four years. That’s important not only for financial reasons but also because it improves the odds that a student will eventually earn a degree.
Unfortunately, other public universities in the state have expressed hesitancy about following IU’s lead. Administrators from Ball State, Purdue and Indiana State say they have no plans to freeze tuition. Private schools such as Butler and Notre Dame also aren’t on board.
Some critics of IU’s new policy have dismissed it as a gimmick or “publicity stunt.” But it should be seen more as a good faith effort to address a complex challenge that few, if any, universities have been able to fully solve.
It also should be noted that IU and other state universities have been prodded in recent years by prominent state Sen. Luke Kenley and other legislators to be more aggressive in slowing the rise in tuition. This policy should please those lawmakers, who in a few months will vote on a two-year budget that helps fund state universities.
So bring on the freeze. And may the idea spread well beyond Showalter Fountain and Dunn Meadow.