Democrats oppose mayor's plan to eliminate Homestead Tax Credit to fund pre-K

INDIANAPOLIS - Almost a week after Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard revealed his sweeping anti-crime plan, Maggie Lewis, the Democratic leader of the City-County Council said she has concerns.

Lewis sat down with members of Ballard’s staff Tuesday to get more details on his plan to fight crime and fund early education.

The two key funding components of Ballard’s plan include elimination of the Local Homestead Tax Credit and a slight increase in the Public Safety Tax.

"We have failed our children in our society for at least forty years," Ballard said.

Ballard's plan depends heavily on crime prevention and crime protection. The mayor wants to eliminate the local Homestead Credit and use the additional money to fund pre-K programs for the city's 3 and 4-year-olds.

Originally, the mayor wanted to use that money to put more police on the street, but now he wants it for education. 

"I've been a strong advocate for access to quality education, pre-K. I've lobbied our state legislators. I've spoken to the governor regarding this issue. I believe it is truly important. However, eliminating the Homestead Credit for this is going to be somewhat problematic. But we'll see what happens with that," Lewis said.

On the prevention side, the mayor has proposed growing the police department by hiring 280 police officers through 2018. That would put IMPD staffing levels at 1,677 officers, the highest number of police officers ever.

The mayor would pay for it by raising the Public Safety Tax to one half of one percent. Democrats believe the $5 per month impact on taxpayers might be an easier sell.

"Right now people are afraid and people don't feel safe in their homes. And they certainly don't feel as safe as they did four years ago or eight years ago. So, I think that could be in the minds of the public. But I also think in the minds of the public is that elected officials should leave no stone unturned. And they should leave no opportunity on the table," Chairman of the Marion County Democratic Party Joel Miller said.

Lewis will meet with Ballard on Monday. Both parties agreed on the need for more education and more police, but how to pay for it remains the issue.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

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