Pence Administration Making Personal Appeals For More Regional Cities Cash

Feb 26, 2016

Credit Indiana Economic Development Corporation / http://indianaregionalcities.com/

Legislators last year budgeted $84 million for Regional Cities grants, with the money to come from the state’s tax amnesty program.

The amnesty raised more money than predicted, and Pence announced three $42 million grants in December instead of two.

But House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) warned last week the votes aren't there to get the extra money out of committee.

Several committee members say they resent being put on the spot to back up the administration's promises without first being consulted.

Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) says Governor Pence shouldn’t have promised money to three regions when legislation says otherwise.

“The General Assembly was very clear that it should’ve been two. A commitment was made to three and now all of their hopes are up that they are going to get this money against the will of the legislature,” she says. “We’re kind of backed up against the wall.”

Commerce Secretary Victor Smith and Workforce Development Commissioner Steve Braun appeared before the committee to urge members to reconsider.

Braun acknowledges there are many programs that need funding, but says the return on investment from the Regional Cities plan will dwarf anything else.

Asked why the administration promised more money than had been approved, Smith said the three proposals stood out so much that a review panel felt they all needed funding..

The committee will vote no later than Monday.

Bosma has said the money may be folded into a road funding compromise if the votes aren't there for a stand-alone bill.