Members of the Indiana Chamber board of directors, conducting their semiannual meeting today and Friday, reiterated their continued disbelief, outrage and opposition to unemployment insurance trust fund legislation that will lead to many more job losses across the state.
The General Assembly passed the massive tax increase on employers on April 29 and Gov. Daniels signed the bill yesterday. James A. Merten, Chamber chairman of the board for 2009 and vice chairman for City Securities Corporation in Indianapolis, said:
"Indiana companies already struggling to preserve jobs are being victimized by their own senators and representatives at the Statehouse. This singularly focused attack on statewide businesses not only does not solve the problem, but makes it considerably worse for employers and their employees."
Merten urged the governor and legislators to reconsider this detrimental action and pass a more balanced solution during the upcoming special session.
Merten and the Chamber released the letter (below) – signed by 68 members of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce board of directors – that was sent to Gov. Daniels immediately after the legislation passed the General Assembly.
May 4, 2009
Dear Governor Daniels:
We are writing today as your constituents, community and business leaders, and members of the board of directors of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, an organization representing nearly 5,000 employers and 800,000-plus employees across Indiana.
We are utterly dismayed at the recent passage of HEA 1379 that purports to "fix" Indiana’s insolvent unemployment insurance (UI) trust fund and urge you to veto this very bad legislation. Although press reports have you stating that you will sign this legislation, we ask you to examine these facts and reconsider any such decision.
HEA 1379 is an unprecedented tax increase on Indiana employers both large and small at a time of severe economic hardship. In the aggregate, it represents a more than $700 million tax increase over two years borne solely by businesses and employers. Many employers will see increases of 150%; the vast majority of even the smallest firms will experience a minimum 35% rate increase under the new wage base and rate schedules.
Worse than higher taxes, it will lead – ironically – to more job losses and higher unemployment as marginal firms attempt to adapt to increased operating costs. Worse yet, the tax increases embodied in HEA 1379 do not fix the problem of the UI fund’s financial insolvency.
So, with your signature, you will endorse and make law a massive tax increase on Indiana businesses that will worsen the state’s unemployment without returning the state’s UI fund to solvency. This does not have to be.
Rather, we ask again that you veto HEA 1379 and allow the Indiana General Assembly to go back to work and adopt a real, balanced solution in the upcoming special session. With a federal deadline of November, 2010 to find a solution, there is ample time to do so.
Such a solution would include shared sacrifices and comprehensive administrative reforms that were the basis of an earlier, more balanced plan. As Indiana employers, we stand ready to shoulder our part of this burden and work with you and the Indiana General Assembly on a new, durable reform that serves the interests of all Hoosiers.
We appreciate your thoughtful consideration of this issue and look forward to your response to our concerns about this deeply flawed legislation.
Bill Bailey, President, Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce, Seymour
Marlon Bailey, President, Stant Manufacturing Inc., Connersville
David Baker, President, Indiana American Water Co., Inc., Greenwood
John Barnes, Chairman & CEO, Materials Processing, Inc., Logansport
John Blakley, President & CEO, Blakley Corporation, Indianapolis
Jesse Brand, President, Brands, Inc., Columbus
Kathy Bruns, President & CEO, Time Services, Inc., Fort Wayne
Tobias Buck, CEO, Chairman, Paragon Medical, Inc., Pierceton
Kathy Carrier, President & CEO, Briljent, LLC, Fort Wayne
James Cunning, Of Counsel, Ice Miller LLP, Indianapolis
Joseph DeGroff, Partner, Ice Miller LLP, Indianapolis
John Dickey, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc., Batesville
Thomas Easterday, Senior VP, Secretary & General Counsel, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc., Lafayette
Ed Epping, Plant Manager, Lehigh Cement Company, Mitchell
Michael Evans, President & CEO, CHORUS, Inc., Indianapolis
Philip Eykamp, President, Mid-States Rubber Products, Princeton
Jim Fehsenfeld, President, U.S. Aggregates, Inc., Indianapolis
James Fisher, Executive Vice President, Fisher Properties of Indiana, Inc., Muncie
Jody Fledderman, President and CEO, Batesville Tool & Die, Inc., Batesville
David Geis, President/CEO, Jackson County Bank, Seymour
Scott Glaze, Chairman & CEO, Fort Wayne Metals Research Products, Fort Wayne
Edmund Hafer, President, Evansville Regional Business Committee, Inc., Evansville
John Hiler, President, Accurate Castings, Inc., LaPorte
Tom Hirons, President, CEO, Hirons & Company Communications, Inc., Indianapolis
Allan Hubbard, President, E&A Industries, Inc., Indianapolis
Gary Irvin, President/CEO, FORUM Credit Union, Fishers
Jerry Jones, President & CEO, Cannon IV, Inc., Indianapolis
Robert Jones, CEO & President, Old National Bancorp, Evansville
Lynn Kimmel, President, Lockhart Automotive Group, Indianapolis
Robert Koch, Retired Member, Board of Directors, Koch Enterprises, Inc., Evansville
Michael Kubacki, Chairman, President & CEO, Lake City Bank, Warsaw
Andre Lacy, Chairman of the Board, LDI, Ltd., Indianapolis
Christopher LaMothe, CEO, Sherry Laboratories, Inc., Daleville
Mike Lawson, President/CEO, Riddell National Bank, Brazil
James Marcuccilli, President & CEO, STAR Financial Bank, Fort Wayne
C. James McCormick, Chairman Emeritus, Bestway Express, Inc., Vincennes
James McKinney, President & CEO, Regency Commercial Associates, Evansville
James Merten, Vice Chairman, City Securities Corporation, Indianapolis
David Millard, Chair, Business Department/Partner, Barnes & Thornburg LLP, Indianapolis
Richard Miller, Owner/President, Fineline Printing Group, Indianapolis
Dayton Molendorp, Chairman, CEO & President, OneAmerica Financial Partners, Indianapolis
Marilyn Moran-Townsend, CEO, CVC Communications, Fort Wayne
Gary Morris, President & COO, Clabber Girl, Terre Haute
Christopher Murphy, Chairman & CEO, 1st Source Corp/1st Source Bank, South Bend
John Mutz, Chairman of the Board, Lumina Foundation, Indianapolis
Daniel Nebesio, Vice President-Operations, NACHI Technology, Inc., Greenwood
Eileen O’Neill Odum, CEO, NIPSCO, Merrillville
Donald Orr, President, JBS United, Inc., Sheridan
Wayne Patrick, Partner, Professional Data Dimensions, Indianapolis
Rae Pearson, President & CEO, Alpha Rae Personnel, Inc., Fort Wayne
James Powers, Managing Executive, Crowe Horwath LLP, Indianapolis
Patty Prosser, Managing Partner, Career Consultants- Oi Partners, Indianapolis
Michael Rechin, President & CEO, First Merchants Corporation, Muncie
James Risk, President & CEO, Kirby Risk Corporation, Lafayette
Steven Ross, President, Bertsch Services, Warsaw
Don Schenkel, Chairman & CEO, Tower Bank & Trust Company, Fort Wayne
Sam Schlosser, President, Plymouth Foundry, Inc., Plymouth
Daniel Seitz, Partner, Bose McKinney & Evans LLP, Indianapolis
Rick Slagle, President, Majority Builders, Inc., South Bend
Kerry Stemler, President, K.M. Stemler Company, Inc., New Albany
Thomas Templeton, President, Templeton Coal Company, Inc., Terre Haute
Paul Thrift, President, Thompson-Thrift, Terre Haute
Kip Tom, President, Tom Farms, LLC, Leesburg
Terry Tucker, President/CEO, Maple Leaf Farms, Inc., Milford
John Van Etten, Chairman of the Board, Terre Haute International Airport, Terre Haute
Michael Wells, President, REI Investments, Inc., Indianapolis
George Witwer, CEO, Humanizing Technologies, Indianapolis
Alisa Wright, CEO, BioConvergence LLC, Bloomington