INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Mike Pence signed Senate Enrolled Act 621, which reformed the Marion County government, Saturday afternoon.
“Senate Enrolled Act 621 came to my desk in the midst of no small amount of controversy. Given the competing views of this legislation, I have made a point to meet with supporters and opponents and have given careful consideration to their viewpoints. Hoosiers with differing views on this legislation have made thoughtful arguments, and I respect the opinions expressed by both sides,” Pence said.
Pence said the signing of the legislation serves the public interest of Indianapolis because it grants the current mayor, or any future mayor, the authority to manage the city’s finances in a manner that will protect taxpayers and encourage economic development.
"I applaud Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana General Assembly's decision to protect Marion County taxpayers, promote economic development and strengthen the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department," Mayor Greg Ballard said.
Pence said the mayor needs the authority to manage the issues for which the public holds him or her individually accountable.
“While I am signing SEA 621 because it strengthens the mayor’s financial authority and protects taxpayers, it is regrettable that this legislation also includes the removal of the four at-large seats on the City-County Council. While there are certainly valid arguments in favor of eliminating these at-large seats, including better representation and government efficiency, it is impossible to escape the characterization that this legislation appears partisan and politically motivated since all four at-large seats are currently held by the opposing political party,” Pence said.
The chairmen of both the Marion County Democratic and Republican parties released statements after Pence signed the bill.
"I'm not surprised that Gov. Pence today rubber stamped Mayor Ballard's Power Grab bill. Gov. Pence spent a career in Washington as a shill for tea party Republicans. That's why a majority of Hoosiers voted for someone else to be governor. Mayor Ballard today exposed himself to be the harsh partisan tea party Republican that I've known him to be. This bill proves his priorities are out of line. With over 40 homicides in Marion County this year, double last year's rate, Ballard is more interested in grabbing power and building a cricket field then he is facing the real issues confronting the city," Marion County Democratic Party Chairman Joel Miller said.
"I commend Gov. Pence and the Indiana General Assembly for being champions for government efficiency, economic development and taxpayer protection in Marion County," said Marion County Republican Chairman Kyle Walker.
Pence said that for all of Indiana to prosper, the city of Indianapolis must continue to deliver world-class services, maintain top employers and offer employment and entertainment opportunities for all Hoosiers.