Another viewpoint: Survey shows what Hoosiers want from legislature

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

According to a Virginia-based pollster, Hoosiers want the General Assembly to focus on reducing health care costs, tackling affordable housing and improving education funding.

Will those elected to that body listen?

“We asked all 1,000 voters we interviewed what they thought the top priority for the Indiana state legislature should be in 2023,” Bellwether Research & Consulting summarized in a release last month. “Very clearly, it is not more restrictions on abortion.”

Bellwether, helmed by Indiana University alum Christine Matthews, surveyed Indiana registered voters using a mix-mode of online and text-to-web contact between Dec. 11 and 17. The poll’s sampling error margin is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Of the survey respondents answering the question “Of the following, which should be the top priority for the Indiana state legislature next year,” 31% said lowering health care costs should be the legislature’s focus.

Increasing affordable housing and K-12 education funding were at 21% and 17%, respectively. Expanding renewable energy use and funding public health programs both garnered 9%.

Restricting access to mail-order abortion pills was at 3%.

We could not agree more with House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, who told the Indianapolis Star last month: “Let’s give the social issues a rest this session. … I don’t think, frankly, it does our state any good if we are on the national news with these types of issues.”

And what’s the supermajority touting this term? More tax cuts.

It’s not surprising because this habitual insistence on low taxes as the best bait for businesses is Pavlovian. Yet, Indiana has missed opportunities as our workforce is not suited for high-end tech sector operations.

Study after study, hearing after hearing shows Indiana is getting lapped by other states due to our deficits in educational attainment, health care outcomes and costs as well as our timid move toward alternative energy resources. The cumulative effect of the legislature’s single-mindedness on taxation is pronounced.

Don’t take our word for it. Listen to Ball State University’s Michael Hicks, a well-regarded economist.

“I think it would be important over the long run to change the focus of the debate about taxes from simply looking at the rates and trying to use the marginal tax rate as a way to attract economic activity,” Hicks told the Indiana Capital Chronicle. “It hasn’t worked here. It doesn’t work really anywhere.”

Don’t want to listen to an academic? Well, Eli Lilly and Company’s CEO, Dave Ricks, laid out what the pharmaceutical company needs from the state, and it isn’t simply lowering taxes.

“For firms competing in the innovation economy, like Eli Lilly and Company, the breadth of considerations is even greater,” he wrote in a Journal Gazette op-ed published last May. “Unfortunately, on these expanding measures of attractiveness, Indiana fares poorly.”

Hoosiers have spoken about what they want the elected to accomplish when they meet.

We hope the legislature is listening.