If our legislature paid half as much attention to job creation and economic realities as it does to time zones, same-sex marriage and teaching cursive, Indiana’s economy might actually improve, and state agencies might not have to lie about their performance.
If our lawmakers took an honest look at the results of ideologically-driven measures like tax reductions, constitutionalizing the tax caps and “right to work” legislation–we might encourage the kinds of economic activity that would work for everyone.
Honest to goodness.
Instead, Indiana continues to underperform on a wide range of measures. In a recent column, Morton Marcus highlighted one of those– a significant increase in the gap between the average weekly earnings of a Hoosier worker and that of the average American worker– and he asked a pertinent (and impertinent) question:
In Dec.’07 that gap was $20.74; by Dec.’13 the gap between Indiana and the nation grew to $58.99 per week. Is this the economic progress our elected legislative and executive leaders travel the world to advance? Is this consistent with those boastful press releases we read about how well Indiana is doing because of our low business taxes and slack regulation?
Elsewhere in the country, it is dawning on elected officials that it is quality of life, not tax rates, that drives relocation decisions. A state that boasts of its “slack regulation” is advertising its resemblance to West Virginia, where drinking the water has gotten hazardous. A state touting its low taxes is communicating where its priorities lie; increasingly, when businesses being courted are told “we have low taxes,” they hear “we have substandard education, poorly-maintained roads and parks, and not enough police officers to protect you.” And they’re right.
Amazing as it may seem, people smart enough to run a successful business are smart enough to know that states, like people, get what we pay for. And back home in Indiana, we aren’t willing to pay for much of anything.