New website tracks Indiana lawmakers’ votes

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Jason Arp argues that most voters don’t know who represents them or how those representatives vote.

His solution?

A new website, IndianaScorecard.org, to track and evaluate votes on more than 400 bills to score Hoosier State lawmakers for their defense of private property; if a bill increases taxes or increases government, that’s usually bad.

Arp thinks the site will appeal to people with “his penchant” for fiscal conservatism and small government.

While Arp acknowledges the state’s role in building roads and bridges, he says he wanders off when he starts funding hotels and private office buildings.

“It’s a very popular sentiment among chamber of commerce types,” he says.

Arp remains a critic of popular public/private partnerships such as Parkview Field, which most would cite as a success.

“It’s the ‘seen’ versus the ‘unseen’,” he begins. “Was there more economic activity from that? Have there been more tax payments to the city? Was there more money for the schools because of that? And the answer is no.’ It’s hard to believe, but if you look at the numbers and compare before and after, there’s actually less money being invested in the things you expect from these areas than there was before.

Arp is in his second term as a member of the Fort Wayne City Council, where he typically votes against economic development agreements. By day, he runs J. Arp & Company, which does “proprietary research, trading and portfolio management.”

A legislature on the run

Arp featured IndianaScorecard.org in an opinion piece for Indiana Policy Review.

In the article titled “A Legislature in Lockstep”, Arp analyzes the numbers and writes that the results are “a shock”.

“Many districts voted 65-70% Republican but had one representative who voted more like Democrats than conservatives, raising taxes or eroding private property rights. In fact, that was the norm,” he wrote.

Arp blames the House Republican Campaign Committee and its $10 million per campaign cycle.

“That’s over $140,000 per Republican House member,” he wrote.

Arp says the HRCC organizes fundraisers for candidates and invites lobbyists of various interests. If the HRCC loses faith in a legislator, part of the war chest may go to a primary adversary or the legislator may lose access to the entire system.

Arp only pauses for a moment when asked why lawmakers would accept him.

“For a lot of people, it’s the most important thing they’ve ever done. They like to be a representative of the state. I think a lot of times they run with good intentions and then they get there and they’re told that’s what you have to do. But they like to be there. They like to be important. They want to stay there.

Arp knows he has a long way to go to change his mind, even among the four other Republicans on the city council.

“It’s futile, but you have to do it anyway,” he laughs.

About Jean R. Manzer

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