The top three candidates for governor gathered Monday night on the University of Indianapolis campus for the second of three public debates. Moderated by Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute President John Ketzenberger, the event focused on the economy. Democrat John Gregg, Republican Eric Holcomb and Libertarian Rex Bell tackled related issues including economic development, infrastructure and education.
Gregg weighed in on the statewide Regional Cities Initiative, which he lauded. However, Gregg took issue with state government’s influence on communities. "The legislature has really started micromanaging all local levels of government: cities, towns, counties, school boards. They need flexibility on how they spend and use their local resources, which are precious and very, very limited. This legislature has got to realize that that government that governs best is closet to them," he said.
Bell said the money spent on programs like Regional Cities is another example of government "picking winners and losers." He shows the government is "sending money to one region, not to another. We are very much in favor of allowing people to keep their money, invest it as they see fit. Local EDC’s certainly should exist, but they should be funded by willing investors connecting to businesses that want to locate or want to start up. So, as far as the government taking our tax money and picking different regions, different locations, different companies, we think that’s something that’s better left to the people than turning it over to the government.
Holcomb says working together regionally is "the way of the future." "We need to do more of it, this is calling for communities to take an inventory of their assets and their liabilities. We understand that we’re much stronger together, he said. "No urban area can do it on their own, they need suburban, they need urban buy-in." Holcomb called for more programs along the lines of Regional Cities, call it "government working with each other."
The debate is organized by the nonpartisan Indiana Debate Commission:
The third and final debate with Holcomb, Gregg and Bell is slated for October 25 at the University of Southern Indiana. The event is set to begin at 7 p.m. Eastern.