Back in January, our Senator and Representative in the Indiana State Legislature sent out surveys. That each of them got at least one response is certain -- mine. They must have gotten more than one because they each sent me a letter with the statistical results. Do wish now I'd kept a copy of whatever my opinion was on that day so comparisons could be made. Also, while the results are nice, would really like to know exactly how many responses came from how many mailings? And, was it worth the postage in terms of changing anyone's mind?
The statistical results came with similar letters creatively address to "The Lewis Family." Why we needed all this printed materials was not made clear. At the risk of quoting my own previous blog: "I do try to fill out these surveys: I do this in spite of a firm conviction no one is ever influenced by these surveys. A belief enforced by years of political observation and boiler-plate responses received." ("Rich & Nancy, Survey This," Jan. 12, 2010)
According to the Survey Results provided by State Senator Richard Bray (in part):
78 percent of us want yet another "bipartisan study" for some probably good thing. Hope they do it, whatever it is. Chances are there are one or two empty file boxes such a study can be stuck in and forgotten.
95 percent think it might help if ex-legislators had to wait a year before becoming lobbyist. Maybe the other 5 percent think lobbyist should be banned altogether?
It was almost a draw as to whether or not to amend the state Constitution to create yet another independent commission (43 percent No, 57 percent Yes). Nothing that does not change the Constitution will almost certainly be changed by a future legislature needing to raise money or wanting to retire and become lobbyists.
Representative Nancy Michael also sent results (mostly to vaguely similar questions). Some results which struck me include:
Question No. 1 is whether we believe the current property tax cap is fair to taxpayers? Think I voted that there are few, if any, tax laws fair to taxpayers.
Seems 70 percent of us would like to see them find a revenue source other than property tax. Property tax is a little like judging Figure Skating -- the score is in the eye of the beholder.
Opinion as to what to do with the $1 billion surplus is all over the board (from 8 percent to 27 percent). The State of Indiana has a $1 billion surplus?
The final question has to do with how local governments should be reformed. My answer: Very carefully.
Representative Michael did include a personal note at the bottom of her letter thanking me for my flat tax idea. I have suggested this on such surveys for years, proving the very best ideas are always politically impossible and never show up on surveys. It is nice to know, though, somebody actually reads anything I write. Kinda makes it worth the thousands of dollars it must take to send out these things -- Thanks for the survey.
The State of Indiana has a $1 billion surplus? Use it on more surveys!
David L. Lewis is an observer of and sometimes commentator on life who may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.