INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Republicans have kicked off the 2024 legislative session with an odd agenda: attack Indianapolis, the economic engine of the state.
Multiple bills this year have the ‘party of small government’ and ‘local control’ using the full power of the state government to restrict the city of Indianapolis from providing transit and economic development to its citizens.
Senate Bill 52 would ban Indianapolis from using new dedicated lanes for public transit, halting the Blue Line Bus Rapid Transit project that would connect Indianapolis International Airport with downtown. This would also cost the city and state over $250 million in federal dollars for the project. Republican Senator Aaron Freeman is also trying to ban the city from installing ‘no turn on red’ signs downtown.
The bill is opposed by a number of community groups and businesses, as Indianapolis voted directly in 2016 to expand its transit network with a 59% majority.
House Bill 1199 rescinds the Economic Development Enhancement District for downtown Indianapolis, a project only passed last year and supported by the city and downtown businesses to benefit the Mile Square. Other Republican proposals would also raise taxes directly on other Marion County residents to fund the enhancement district.
“Republicans spent the months leading up to session grandstanding against reopening the budget to address child care and health care issues all Hoosier families face. But when it comes to messing with federal funds and economic development for Indianapolis, they are more than willing to reopen the budget,” said Indiana Democratic Party Chair Mike Schmuhl. “Indianapolis is the economic engine of our state. Under Democratic leadership, Indy residents have seen expanded transit, new businesses, and downtown continues to grow. Republicans should rediscover their roots of local government control and responsible governing.
“Indianapolis residents know the logical next step is continuing to expand transit, connecting downtown with the airport and more neighborhoods, and making Indianapolis safer for all residents. The Republican supermajority only wants to stand in the way of progress for Indianapolis, and all of central Indiana because they care more about control than meaningful legislation.”