STATE SENATOR DAVID C. LONG

Recently, I received an email from an angry constituent. He let me know how much he despised my vote in favor of Daylight Savings time last year, and also let me have it for supporting the Governor’s proposal to lease the Indiana toll road. He went so far as to suggest that I had “no mind of my own”, that I was just a partisan puppet, that I wasn’t listening to the people, and that he was going to make sure I was never elected to public office again.

I thought I would share my response will all of you. Though I call this gentleman, Mr. Smith, that is fictional, because the real individual deserves to have his message to me kept private, unless he chooses to share it himself. I hope you enjoy the article.

 

Dear Mr. Smith:

I wanted to respond to your most recent e-mail. Let’s begin by clearing up any misconceptions about my votes: they represent my own opinions, carefully thought out and researched as well as they can be. Whether the issue emanates from the leadership of the Governor or from another legislator, or from my own initiative, the vote ultimately cast is mine, and mine alone.

We live in a representative democracy, meaning that the people elect someone to represent them at the legislature. This means that your representative is given the task to carefully study and learn about the issues, and to cast a vote that your representative believes is in the best interests of the people of Indiana, as well as his or her constituents. It most definitely doesn’t mean taking a poll every time you have to make a tough vote to make sure you cast the most popular one. If the constituents don’t believe that the representative is doing their job, or voting correctly, they can vote them out the next election. I have no doubt, from the tenor of your e-mails, which way you will be casting your vote the next time I run for office, but that doesn’t stop me from communicating with you and considering your perspective as part of the process of learning about an issue. That is my job, until the voters decide otherwise or I choose to step aside.

I have informed you previously about why I felt the daylight savings issue made sense for Indiana. The fact that the world has changed, that we live in a global economy, and that Indiana can no longer isolate itself from those economic forces was a large part of my decision in voting for DST. For what it is worth, I believe that a majority of the people in our Senate district agreed with that vote.

I have also carefully studied the Governor’s Major Moves initiative. The concept of the long-term lease of a toll road is not new; it has been used repeatedly in Europe and Asia, and is also currently utilized by the states of Virginia, Texas, and California. It is a global trend that is likely to be embraced by many of our sister states in the near future.

Our current funding source for transportation infrastructure is the gasoline tax, just as it is in all 50 states. It is a rapidly diminishing resource, as cars and trucks have and will continue to become more fuel efficient. That means fewer dollars from the taxes, and thus fewer dollars for our roads at a time when we face over $2 billion in overdue construction projects that cannot be funded. Without a large infusion of new dollars, our highways will continue to deteriorate, and we will be unable to construct crucial expansion projects like US 31; the I-69 extension; our own Fort to Port project; and the reconstruction of Indiana 25 from Logansport to Lafayette.

The proposed lease will require over $4 billion dollars to be invested in the toll road alone over the life of the lease, with another $4 billion to be invested in the other roads around the state. The lessee will have to make all of the improvements in the toll road; the state’s taxpayers will pay nothing. We will also be able to construct virtually every important road project in our state over the next ten years, allowing us to overcome years of neglect by building a first class transportation system that meets the growing needs of our businesses and people.

The number of jobs to be created is estimated at over 130,000, and the ancillary economic impact will be many billions of dollars for our state economy. All this, and it won’t cost our taxpayers a cent. It will be funded entirely by the up front, lump sum payment from the lessee, and will be repaid exclusively through tolls paid to use Interstate 80-90. These tolls can only be raised to a level equal to the annual rate of inflation. And, for the record, we are working on a toll credit for Indiana residents who live along the toll road and regularly use it, so that the impact of this lease upon their pocket books can be as minimal as possible.

Ninety percent of the construction jobs created by this agreement must be filled by Hoosiers; the same for the toll road jobs.

Yes, I support this concept, because I refuse to live in the past. Every elected official in our state has the duty to do whatever they can to help move Indiana forward, because our state’s economy is in deep trouble. The manufacturing jobs that have driven Indiana’s economy for the past century are quickly disappearing. We have to be far more successful than other parts of the country in creating new jobs and growing our economy, because we have fallen behind, and we can’t afford to slip any further. That means having to do things differently than we’ve done in the past. That means casting votes that can be very unpopular with constituents like yourself, because it is more important to make the right vote for Indiana’s future than to be popular.

And for the record, I happen to believe that my job demands that I also look out for the interests of a segment of our population that has no vote, but desperately needs a voice: our children and grandchildren, who will need good, 21st century jobs in order to survive and prosper in a tough, fast changing global economy.

If my positions as explained above cause you to vote against me in the next election, so be it. It is, thank God, your absolute right as a citizen. I just hope that in every election, you study the positions and votes of your elected representatives, and decide, in each case, whether that individual has done their job effectively. Making an informed and thoughtful vote is all we can ask of our legislative representatives, and all we can ask of our citizens, in order to ensure that best system of government on our planet endures and prospers.

I look forward to receiving your next e-mail in the near future, and will continue to respond, as best I can, to your questions.

 

Until then, I remain, without apology,
State Senator David C. Long

The Waynedale News Staff
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Sen. David Long

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