Mayor Ballard unlikely to win approval for a commuter tax

August 19th, 2014 at 3:16 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Mayor Greg Ballard’s budget proposal calls for local tax hikes to pay for more police officers.  He would like to see those tax hikes replaced next year by a commuter tax.

It’s a tough sell.

Among the 200,000 people who come to Indianapolis to work you can find some who are willing to pay a commuter tax, but when the mayor called for a commuter tax in his budget proposal his spokesman made it clear that the attempts to pass local tax hikes will come first.

“If we’re successful next year in getting the General Assembly to enact a commuter tax,” said Marc Lotter, “then we can always reduce that levy and let the commuter tax pick it up.”

The odds of that happening are not good.  The reasons why were spelled out on a recent episode of Indiana Week in Review.

“There is no, you know, desire in the legislature to raise a commuter tax for Marion County,” said former State GOP Chairman Mike McDaniel.

“First, a commuter tax is not popular.  Any tax increase isn’t popular,” said Lesley Weidenbener of thestatehousefile.com. “Secondly, the legislators that represent Indianapolis are Democrats and they are way out of power right now.”

The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce has been calling for a commuter tax since 2006 and will push for it in 2015.  Yet President Michael Huber knows what he’s up against.

“It would be very difficult,” said Huber, “and we’re trying to not be naive to the fact that there’s not an easy fix.”

And as long as Indianapolis has the ability to raise taxes on its own, help from state lawmakers will be hard to come by.

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