Republicans today decided that there was no need to have a comprehensive
review of the effectiveness of the state of Indiana’s efforts at privatizing
numerous taxpayer services, according to House Democratic Leader Scott
Pelath, D-Michigan City.
By a party-line
vote, the House majority rejected Pelath’s proposal to conduct a
cost-savings review of all state contracts that involved privatization of
services over the past decade and make sure that a similar study is a part
of all deals made in the future. The Democratic leader attempted to include
the study in Senate Bill 394.
would have given the people of Indiana the first real chance to see just how
effective we have been since our state decided that privatizing
taxpayer-funded services was the wave of the future,” Pelath said. “There
has been ample evidence to suggest that the people of Indiana have suffered
more than benefitted from this ill-conceived venture, but a thorough
examination certainly is in order to gauge what has taken place to this
The state’s most
notorious efforts at privatization have been the 75-year lease of the
Indiana Toll Road to a foreign investor and the ill-fated decision to have
IBM Corp. handle the lion’s share of the state’s welfare services.
“We all know how
the IBM affair ended: with a system so broken that even a champion of
privatization like former Gov. Mitch Daniels had to concede it didn’t work,”
Pelath said. “Now the state and IBM are stuck in court, and the real losers
in the deal are Indiana taxpayers, who are being forced to foot the bill for
an ever-increasing amount of legal fees resulting from this mess.”
While the toll road
lease has many more years to run, the chunk of cash the state received in
the deal already has run out, and the list of state and local infrastructure
improvements needing to be funded remains lengthy.
“The value of the
toll road deal remains in dispute, but there is little argument that the IBM
contract was a complete disaster,” Pelath said.
“However, the push
to privatize remains alive in Indiana,” he continued. “Make no mistake:
there is an ongoing program to place more and more public services into the
hands of private interests. All the risks that we have seen still remain,
but there continues to be little interest from the leaders of our state’s
government in taking a comprehensive look at what has been wrought.”
would have provided that look by examining the benefits of the privatization
contracts that have been put in place, and ensuring that similar studies
take place on privatization deals into the future.
“Since we are
talking about hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars at stake here, I
believe we need to be more vigilant in making sure that the public’s
interests are protected,” he said. “Transparency and accountability should
be our primary concern, and I am disappointed those sentiments are not being
shared by those in charge of our state right now.”