Legislative leaders say an aggressive push by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation likely won’t influence final negotiations over how much money to put into the governor’s Regional Cities Initiative.
The governor’s proposed budget puts $42 million a year towards the IEDC project. The House and Senate scaled that back to $10 million a year.
As the session nears its end, the IEDC is strongly urging lawmakers to pump more money into the initiative.
To convince them, the group has launched a campaign-style website and created gift bags for key legislators. Senate GOP Leader David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says he’s not paying much attention to IEDC’s push.
“As far as I’m concerned, the Regional Cities idea is a good one but the funding needs to be, you know, let’s just say strengthened a little bit,” Long says.
Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) says he can understand why the IEDC would need to make such a push.
“This has been the worst-explained program that I can remember in a long time at the Indiana General Assembly," Lanane says. "Nobody knows what they’re talking about.”
Long says the legislature is balancing funding for the Regional Cities Initiative with money for other regional projects such as the Evansville Medical School and a new rail line in Northwest Indiana.