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Economist Morton Marcus: Advice for Hoosier Candidates

June 1, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS – On paper, Indiana is in great shape, but the director emeritus of the Indiana Business Research Institute at Indiana University's Kelly School of Business says there's more to government than just having a surplus. Morton Marcus believes the gubernatorial candidates and state lawmakers need to make changes.

"Doing very well financially doesn't mean that we're doing very well as a state. The important part of government is providing services to the people, and what we've been doing is cutting back on services."

In Marcus' view, it is people with disabilities, both mental and physical, who have been hurt the most by the cuts in services. Gubernatorial candidates who call for more tax cuts aren't the answer to the problems facing Indiana, he says.

"How do we provide decent services for the people of Indiana given our current tax structure? Our tax structure is so favorable to the wealthy, and so favorable to corporations, that we're denying services to the people in general."

He advises the candidates to pay increased attention to high school education, and is critical of the expansion and cost of Ivy Tech.

"Look at the cutbacks that we have in the schools, which are largely the result of a cutback in the property tax. Cutting the property tax is very popular - but it's totally irresponsible."

Marcus says legislators must convince the people that, if they want services like quality schools, they have to pay for them. He is also convinced that Indiana has a tough time attracting the best state employees because the state jobs don't pay very well. He thinks that also may explain Indiana's recent money management issues.

"It's important to attract good people into state government. And we wouldn't have some of the errors that we've been seeing, and some of the embarrassments we've been seeing, if we were attracting better people to work at the state."

Among those state government slip-ups, recent reports tally $320 million in overlooked revenue, failure to pay more than $200 million owed to local governments, and $1.8 million dollars in late fees in 2011 for not paying bills on time.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN