RICH JAMES: GOP legislators making session divisive

2014-02-09T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: GOP legislators making session divisiveBy Rich James nwitimes.com
February 09, 2014 12:00 am  • 

As is the case in Washington, politics in the Indiana Legislature has become more divisive.

It is easy to tell by looking at where legislation stands at the halfway point of the session.

If this were a football game, the halftime score would be 52-0.

Republicans are leading, largely because they have twice as many players on the field.

The Republican game plan is to reward the business community for its ongoing financial help.

The plan also includes proposals to further decimate teacher unions, including financial incentives to lure teachers from public schools to charter schools.

And to satisfy the God, guns and gays faction of the party, the GOP is pushing hard to put a same-sex marriage ban in the Indiana Constitution.

While legislators waste their time trying to dictate lifestyles, little is getting done other than what the business community seeks.

Yeah, Republicans want to make the grass even greener in a state that ranks near the top in having a favorable business climate.

Gov. Mike Pence wants either the business personal property tax eliminated or the corporate income tax reduced.

Eliminating the property tax would cost local schools and government $1 billion annually.

Pence knows that, but said he doesn’t want to “unduly harm local government.”

When asked what he meant by unduly, he refused to answer. Talk about leadership.

I guess you can’t blame the GOP for being in bed with businesses – they came to the dance together. And don’t forget the Republican “right-to-work-for-less” law approved a year ago.

If the GOP-business tryst bothers you, Democrats aren't choir boys either. Republicans claim Democrats go out of their way to help unions. That’s true, in part because unions traditionally back Democrats, and in part because the Dems embrace what unions represent.

What it seemingly comes down to is big business versus unions. Yeah, but it is much more than that.

Democrats also look out for the rights of minorities, women and, yes, the gay and lesbian community.

Democrats are striving to raise the minimum wage and eliminate the gender wage gap. Republicans oppose both goals.

If the Republicans are so bad, why do they have such control of the House?

There are a couple of reasons.

Republicans redrew House districts following the 2010 Census, turning blue districts red.

And two years ago – largely because of a political attack against Obamacare, there was a huge Republican vote in 2012 against Barack Obama, and the residual effect sent lots of Indiana Democrats packing.

Pence – for political and business reasons – and fellow Republicans slammed the door on Obamacare, leaving hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers uninsured.

That’s the political reality. And don’t look for Democrats and the folks they represent to fare any better when the Legislature's second half opens tomorrow.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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