Chamber Issues Statement on Governor’s Reform Agenda

Governor Mitch Daniels discussed his hopes today to further push government reform in the upcoming legislative session, with Kernan-Shepard Report architects Joe Kernan and Randall Shepard in attendance. We’ve issued a press release in response, indicating our continued support:

When the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform released its 27 recommendations one year ago (on December 11, 2007), the Indiana Chamber said, "This report places the emphasis exactly where it needs to be — on increased local government efficiency and reduced spending."

Kevin Brinegar, Indiana Chamber president, says today: "Nothing has changed. In fact, in these challenging economic times it’s more important than ever for Hoosiers to demand that the General Assembly enact the recommendations of the Kernan-Shepard Commission so that we may all benefit from high-performing local governments, and for those local units to operate as cost-efficiently as possible.

"We’ve been encouraged by the discussion and the progress over the past year. Hoosiers made their preference for better local government clear at the polls in November when they voted to move the majority of the remaining tax assessing duties from the township to the county level.

"This is not strictly a business issue. It’s putting in place a structure that allows everyone easier access to libraries and other government services, as well as helping ensure the highest levels of public safety," Brinegar concludes. 

Kernan Hits Home Runs on Field, in Public Sector Role

The South Bend Silver Hawks have clinched the Eastern Division title of the Class A Midwest League as the second half of the minor league baseball season winds down. I know you’re saying thanks for the sports update, but there is more.

Former Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan, a catcher during his college days at Notre Dame, serves as president of that team. Kernan spearheaded an ownership group that kept the franchise in South Bend. Kernan also had a 2007 "volunteer" job (the current governor calls and you accept) of co-chairing the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform.

Kernan took time earlier this year to share his perspective on one of the key recommendations out of that group — elimination of township government. It’s one of only 27, but a critical one if our state is to operate local government effectively and efficiently.

Read what Kernan had to say in BizVoice magazine, and view a series of short videos on specific township topics.

And, by the way, go Silver Hawks. You can’t have enough sports success stories in the state.

We’ve Got to STOP Governing Like This

The title of this post was the subtitle of the December 2007 report from the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform. Seven people (led by co-chairs Joe Kernan and Randy Shepard) took six months to listen to Indiana residents, pour over past studies and reports, and determine that the structure of local government in Indiana is a mess.

While they did issue 27 recommendations, few in power were admittedly ready to act. After all, the top three issues in the 2008 General Assembly were property taxes, property taxes and property taxes. One of the results of property tax reform is less money for local government operations. Now, maybe even those entrenched in the current system will realize we can’t continue to conduct business as usual in a system that was set up in the 1850s.

Indiana has more than 3,200 local units of government and nearly 11,000 local elected officials. Over 400,000 people don’t have access to public library services. Public safety is at risk due to ineffective communications between safety agencies. An Evansville Business magazine article recalled a prospective downtown business owner in that city having to attend 27 meetings in 15 days in the attempt to get his company off the ground. That’s ridiculous.

It’s not the people within the system who are at fault; it’s the structure that prevents them from operating most effectively and efficiently.

Read the Indiana Chamber letter. View the one-minute video summary. Review the commission report. Let us know what you think.

One in Charge at County Level

One of the 27 recommendations of the Kernan-Shepard panel (officially the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform) is to have a single elected official in charge at the county level.

John Krauss, director of the Indiana University Center for Urban Policy and the Environment and a former deputy mayor of Indianapolis, led the staff support for the commission. He was recently quoted in a Governing magazine article: "There should be one person that’s accountable. You don’t have three CEOs that run McDonald’s or Microsoft."

Tampa, which has seen its attempts at unification with Hillsborough County fall short three times, is aiming for the elected "mayor" to run the county option. Voters will have their say in November.

Former Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan gives his take on redundancy at the county level and other local government reform topics in Indiana.