LaPorte County Alliance for Indiana's Future

LaPorte County Alliance for Indiana’s Future

It has been a challenging year for members of Indiana’s General Assembly. And, in all honesty, we hope it’s not over yet.

Faced with unprecedented budget deficits, the state’s representatives and senators went home in late March without solving — or at least mitigating — the state’s fiscal crisis. We are thankful that Governor Frank O’Bannon announced that he is calling the General Assembly back on May 14 for a special session to find a way out of the current fiscal situation.

It’s high time they do so. Our state is dead last in economic health. An April 17 article by Andrea Neal in the Indianapolis Star reported that Indiana lost more jobs than any other state in the last two years, and that Indiana’s per-capita personal income ranking fell from 17 in 1965 to 33, the largest drop of any state in the nation. We stand at 91% of the national average in this key income category.

The state’s economic and educational future depends upon decisive leadership, and there is no more time to waste. There are real stories out there that tell the impact of inaction. Employers are voting with their feet — job losses and the inability to attract new business are at the heart of the state’s financial woes.

One thing is clear — the quality of life for all Hoosiers is at stake. We need to do more, not less, to encourage Indiana’s economic and educational health. It’s worked elsewhere — one neighboring state restructured its tax system from one that is property-tax dependent a few years ago, and their effort resulted in the state leading the nation in new job growth.

To try and encourage the state’s leaders to find a way out of this dilemma, a statewide coalition called the Alliance for Indiana’s Future was formed. This coalition is a diverse group of leaders from labor, business, education, and government — not all of whom always see eye-to-eye when it comes to budget and taxation issues. But in this case, the argument is the same — it’s time the General Assembly and the Governor to address these problems.

At least two regional groups have also been formed; one is the Greater Lafayette Alliance for Indiana’s Future, and the other is the La Porte County Alliance for Indiana’s Future. We, the members of the second group, have been meeting at Purdue University North Central in Westville in an effort to persuade state legislators that it's time to work out their differences for the good of all citizens and taxpayers.

The La Porte County group includes the Michigan City and La Porte Chambers of Commerce, the United Way of La Porte County, County Commissioner Clay Turner, Michigan City Mayor Sheila Brillson, La Porte Mayor Kathy Chroback, the Michigan City Economic Development Corporation, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 531, International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers Local 395, the Unity Foundation of La Porte County, Healthy Communities of La Porte County, the La Porte County Association of Realtors, Ivy Tech State College, Purdue University North Central. This coalition passed a resolution supporting the five principles being advanced by the statewide coalition:

  • Reducing property taxes so that home ownership remains affordable and farmers can keep their land.

  • Restructuring business taxes to support economic development for the global economy and the information age of the 21 century.

  • Funding for our K-12 public schools that is sufficient for excellence and that allows the schools to accomplish the state academic standards and school accountability reforms.

  • Funding for a high-quality public education system that keeps our colleges and universities accessible and affordable for the state’s high school graduates and that supports the interconnection of research with advanced technologies and economic development.

  • Creating a tax structure that provides the revenues necessary to fund the investments required to achieve the Alliance’s vision for Indiana’s future.

    We think it’s time for more local groups to join in this effort. It’s not a team that should or must disappear with the next fiscal cure from Indianapolis; local constituencies must find a way to address our regional and statewide concerns with one voice.

    It’s also time to realize we’re all in this together. We must understand we’re not always competing with each other for scarce resources — we’re competing with other states and other nations for the economic and educational advantages we all say we value.

    We urge and encourage the citizens of all the counties of Indiana to join us in organizing our voices for the common good. Some lawmakers have expressed doubt that the special session will be successful. At least one lawmaker, Sen. Bill Alexa (D-Valparaiso) has been quoted as saying, "If (party leaders) can’t come to an agreement, a special session will look very much like the last couple of days of the last session." Alexa added that he had heard very little about the issue from his constituents, and receives only one or two e-mails a day telling him the legislators should re-convene and work out their differences.

    We view this as a call to action. Organize, contact your legislators and tell them it’s time to roll up their sleeves and do what they have been elected to do — address the revenue and spending issues that are crucial to the well being of all Hoosiers.

    Michigan City Area Chamber of Commerce LaPorte Chamber of Commerce

    LaPorte County Association of Realtors United Way of LaPorte County

    Mayor Kathy Chroback - LaPorte Mayor Sheila Brillson - Michigan City

    Purdue University North Central Michigan City Economic Development Corp.

    Commissioner Clay Turner Healthy Communities of LaPorte County

    Unity Foundation of LaPorte County Ivy Tech State College

    International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 531

    International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers Local 395

    LaPorte County Alliance for Indiana’s Future
    1401 South U. S. Highway 421
    Westville, Indiana 46391-9542