Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 1:00 am

State covers Pence's bicentennial bills

State Rep. Greg Porter has an explanation for leftover bills from Indiana's bicentennial celebration: “He planned for a party, had the party and didn't have anybody to pay for it,” the Indianapolis Democrat told the Associated Press.

The party planner is former Gov. Mike Pence, who left for Washington, D.C., with a $53.5 million deficit in his bicentennial account.

A provision tucked in the just-approved budget covers $5.5 million in expenses for a new plaza at the Indiana Statehouse and upgrades to the state library.

But money for an inn at Potato Creek State Park in St. Joseph County and a new state archives building – also from Pence's bicentennial wish list – never came through. The projects are on hold indefinitely.

The former governor had persuaded lawmakers to pay for the 200th birthday party with a deal to lease out 340 state-owned cellphone towers to an Ohio company. The deal immediately drew fire from competitors, and Gov. Eric Holcomb rescinded the agreement soon after taking office.

Porter said Pence was counting on paying for the bicentennial projects with “magic money that didn't appear.” 

State officials hope to lease the towers without the involvement of a private partner and use the revenue for the unfinished projects.