Editorial Summary: Indiana


Indianapolis Business Journal. July 15, 2022.

Editorial: The tax refund plan isn’t the only option for spending reserves

It’s easy to forget, given the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on abortion, that the original reason Governor Eric Holcomb planned to call the Legislature into special session on July 6 was to talk silver.

Specifically, refunds to taxpayers.

political cartoons

The Republican governor asked lawmakers to return $1 billion to Hoosier taxpayers, with individuals receiving $225 each. This would be in addition to the $125 refunds the state currently sends through Indiana’s Automatic Taxpayer Refund Program.

Before lawmakers could begin this special session, however, the Supreme Court ruled that states could set their own rules on abortion. And, so, the special session has essentially been postponed until later this month so that Republicans have time to decide where to go on this highly contentious issue. But the delay also gave Republicans, who have supermajorities in the House and Senate, time to consider Holcomb’s proposed refund to taxpayers. We think that’s a good thing. Even in the context of the state’s two-year, $36 billion budget, a $1 billion taxpayer refund is significant, especially in a state with clear needs related to talent, education, public health and infrastructure.

As IBJ reporter Peter Blanchard writes in an article on page 1A of this issue, some lawmakers (and others) question whether taxpayer refunds are the best use of the state’s huge surplus. or whether the money could be better spent on filling the state teachers’ pension shortfall. There’s also the question of whether a recession could mean the state would have to hold on to cash to offset what could be a drop in tax revenue over the coming year.

It’s a valid conversation. Indiana has over $5 billion in reserves. It is money that has not been set aside to pay for an ongoing program, such as education, economic development or social services. It’s a collection of funds made up of tax revenue that exceeded annual spending needs, federal pandemic relief grants, money the state stashed away for a rainy day, and interest that the State has earned on this money.

It’s certainly easy to see Holcomb’s motivation in offering to return some of that money to taxpayers. Higher prices at the pump, the grocery store and, well, everywhere, are squeezing Hoosier families.

But we remember 2009, when a sudden recession led to lower state tax revenues and ultimately cuts by the government of the day. Mitch Daniels in the money allocated to K-12 schools, universities and state agencies in general.

The state is in a much better financial position today than it was in 2009. And this economic downturn seems to be unfolding more gradually.

But the story is worth reviewing here. So do other big concerns, including how Indiana closes an education achievement gap, improves public health, retains more college graduates, secures its future water supply, prepares existing workers to the jobs of the future, and more.

We hope lawmakers spend as much time pondering these issues as they do changing state abortion laws.

Terre Haute Tribune-Star. July 17, 2022.

Editorial: On Abortion, Hoosiers Should Make Their Case

The day is approaching when lawmakers will gather at the Statehouse to further restrict — or ban — abortion in Indiana. They will do their job in a special session convened by Governor Eric Holcomb.

Although this represents an official gathering of lawmakers, they have met before on the issue. But not at the Statehouse. And not all elected legislators participate. Only Republicans are involved in this initial process because they are the only members who really matter, thanks to the extreme gerrymandering employed in the state that gives the GOP a super majority in both legislative houses. This means that they can conduct state affairs without the presence of the rival party.

Republican lawmakers are sure to pass restrictive abortion laws in the wake of last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down federal constitutional protections on women’s abortion rights. The decision returns authority over abortion to the states and Indiana is controlled by the Republican Party. His counterparts in a number of other red states have already taken steps to, in many cases, ban abortion in most or all circumstances.

The question on the table is how far the Hoosier Republicans will go in their quest. This is where public participation and feedback could play a role in the outcome.

It remains to be decided whether the restrictions on abortion provide for exceptions in cases where the life of the mother is in danger or where a woman is pregnant as a result of rape or incest. Application methods will also be on the table. There will likely be some disagreement among Republican lawmakers, though we may never know to what extent.

There have already been demonstrations and protests at the Statehouse in Indianapolis and across the state by groups advocating their views. These are expected to rise when the legislature goes into session later this month.

Republican lawmakers have, for the most part, declined to comment on the upcoming debate. It leaves the public in the dark about where it’s headed. Independent polls in the past have shown that the Hoosiers are divided on the way forward for the state and that abortion is not viewed in all-or-nothing terms. The voices of the public, expressed civilly but forcefully, will be what sway lawmakers.

Holcomb has pledged to seek more restrictive abortion laws, but does not share details about what that means. He acknowledges having discussions with GOP lawmakers and has encountered different viewpoints on the issue of abortion. He says he and his colleagues listen to voters.

Hoosiers should take the governor at his word. If the issue of abortion is close to your heart, talk about it. Join the conversation.

Herald Anderson’s Bulletin. July 15, 2022.

Editorial: Purdue’s next presidency rooted in electronics

The semiconductor sector is experiencing highs, with record demand for electronics, and lows, with growing tensions between China and Taiwan, which dominates microchips.

According to some forecasts, the United States would need to boost its semiconductor labor market by 50% or at least 70,000 jobs to remain competitive.

But first, understand the importance of semiconductors in power management. If a substance conducts electricity like copper or aluminum, it is conductive. If not, it is an insulator like glass. Semiconductors are halfway there, working as one or the other depending on temperatures. Semiconductors are essential components of phones, cars or air conditioners, to name a few.

Mung Chiang, the new president of Purdue University, certainly understands the role of semiconductors in society. Born in northern mainland China, Chiang, currently John A. Edwardson dean of engineering and executive vice president of strategic initiatives, will replace Mitch Daniels early next year.

Much of Chiang’s role, however, is rooted in the future of semiconductors.

In June 2019, Purdue announced an agreement bringing research from global Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), the world’s largest semiconductor contract manufacturer, to the West Lafayette campus, establishing the Center for Secured Microelectronics Ecosystem.

TSMC’s revenue in June alone was $5.8 billion ($175 billion in New Taiwan Dollars), an increase of 18.5% from the previous June, but a decrease of 5.3% compared to May. TSMC is doing well.

So much so in fact that for the year ending in 2021, TSMC was in the Top 10 equity holdings in Indiana’s public retirement system.

In December 2019, Chiang took a year off to work as a science and technology adviser to the US Secretary of State. In May 2020, Chiang attended a State Department briefing that discussed China’s efforts to dodge U.S. export controls. Officials there announced a $12 billion investment in the United States by TSMC.

Chiang likened the deal to “the old days of Bell Lab, if you will. We can now anticipate a full bloom of American innovation in the years to come.

In 2021, Congress authorized the CHIPS for America Act for which Chiang testified under the title “Securing American Leadership in Semiconductors”.

In May this year, Purdue launched its semiconductor degree program in hopes of meeting the need for trained engineers.

Last December, Chiang withdrew his name from consideration as president of the University of South Carolina. By stepping down, he may have indicated that his job was not being done in West Lafayette.

Chiang’s outstanding role dates back to the five-year tenure of Daniels’ predecessor, France A. Cordova, herself an astrophysical researcher who secured more than $1 billion in research funding through private philanthropy.

His presidency could mark a refocused face of Purdue, moving from simple but shrewd Daniels to often behind-the-scenes work raising funds for research.

Chiang has admirable leadership in mind in touting innovation.

With courage, creativity and funding, Chiang’s vision for microelectronics innovations may well keep Purdue’s research centers as vital and relevant as they have been in the past.

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