Education activists, many business leaders and Indianapolis Star editorial writers and columnists have been hyper in pushing Mayor Greg Ballard’s proposal to provide city/county funding for vouchers for low income four year olds in the city/county to attend quality pre-school. Their over the top advocacy came to head last Tuesday evening, when the proposal to eliminate the local homestead property tax credit, which the Mayor planned to use to fund his Pre-K program, was tabled at a meeting of the City-County Council’s Administration and Finance Committee. A handful of people attended the meeting hoping to testify on Proposal 268. They include representatives of the education advocacy group Stand for Children. After the proposal was tabled, Stand for Children, along with Marion County GOP leader Kyle Walker and GOP Councilman Ben Hunter, loudly complained about the actions of the Committee’s Chair Angela Mansfield. They accused her of denying parents and others the opportunity to speak. Indianapolis Star columnist Matt Tully was histrionic in attacking Mansfield, while not letting his readers hear her side of the story. But given the declining readership of the Star; especially among Democrats and African-Americans, many in the community knew nothing about the controversy. So, in an exclusive in-depth Afternoons with Amos interview, Councilwoman Mansfield patiently walked the audience and community through what happened at the meeting and from Mansfield’s point of view, why.
In a nutshell, Proposal 268 was brought before the committee a motion to table the measure was made by Council President Maggie Lewis, who sits on the committee. Lewis’ motion was seconded which under the Council’s and Robert’s Rules of Order immediately became a non-debatable motion; which had to be voted on immediately. A majority of the committee voted to table the measure, so that ended all discussion on the measure right there. Stand for Children has cried foul saying they were denied an opportunity to speak. Though in the interview, Mansfield said that if the motion to table had failed, and public comment were allowed, those comments would’ve been limited to reasons for or against the homestead credit, only. Proposal 268 makes no mention of exactly where the monies generated by repealing the homestead credit would go to. There’s no mention of the what the money would be used for. (Click the Link to Read the Text of Proposal 268 Text of Council Proposal 268 – Local Homestead Credit). Councilwoman Mansfield also said that Stand for Children representatives didn’t bother to speak with her before or after the meeting to express their concern. Mansfield indicated that her constituents are opposed to ending the local homestead credit, and some oppose the Mayor’s preschool plan while others support it. Also in the interview Mansfield sharply criticized the City authorizing spending on preparation work for the proposed Criminal Justice Center and Jail. Even though the Council has never approved such spending. Mansfield cited that as another example of the Ballard Administration’s lack of regard for taxpayers and lack of clearly stated priorities. Click the Media Player to Hear the Afternoons with Amos extended interview with Councilwoman Angela Mansfield. Runs xx Minutes ©2014 WTLC/Radio One.