In tonight’s State of the State address, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels stated:

“…And fourth, genuine limits on total local spending and borrowing, with none of the loopholes and exceptions that have permitted such spending to balloon in recent years. I hope you will join me in giving citizens what they have in most states, a final say over major capital projects through a straightforward referendum. I do not share the fear of some that Hoosiers cannot be trusted to weigh the pros and cons of big investments for which they will pay the costs. I say, trust the people; give them the facts, and let them vote.

We should do all this in ways that preserve local control over the operations of schools and the setting of local priorities. Fix authority and accountability for controlling total spending where it should be, on the elected leadership of each community, and end the era of micromanagement from Indianapolis.

The complaints have started, of course, from those who say they just couldn’t possibly get by on less of the taxpayers’ money. That capping property tax bills and total local spending must yield to the demands of business as usual.

But it is business as usual that must yield. Business as usual means spending as usual means taxing as usual. To tax less, you must first spend less, so you must say a polite “no” to the spenders and their lobbyists, and an emphatic “yes” to the overburdened property taxpayers of Indiana.

Unless I missed it, I don’t remember seeing  anything about referrendum voting in Senate House Bill 17.  I haven’t checked lately, maybe this has been added or is in other legislation.  Regardless, this would saddle the government with proving to the public that a capital project is needed. 

One of the things that happened with Harrison Square was very strong opposition to the project.  However, if push had come to shove and the project challenged in court, which was the only alternative left to the opponents, they would probably have had to secure a huge bond to protect the City and developers from financial losses.  This made further protest or action impossible.  If you remember, Matt Kelty and Nelson Peters at one point called for a public referendum on the issue, but there wasn’t enough time to push it through the legislature.  If a referendum had been voted on, there is no doubt the project would have failed.

Text of the speech

 —————————- Added 1/16/2007 ———————————–

Governor Daniels referendum reference is House Bill 1001.  I was correct in that I hadn’t seen it in Senate Bill 17.

DIGEST OF INTRODUCED BILL

Property tax relief. Replaces elected county assessors with county assessors appointed by the county fiscal body. Eliminates township assessors. Increases the circuit breaker credit for homesteads and certain rental property. Provides an additional 35% supplemental standard deduction for homesteads. Provides an additional homestead credit for 2008. Eliminates state reimbursed homestead credits and property tax replacement credits in 2009. Eliminates: (1) school tuition support levies; (2) school transportation fund levies; (3) county medical assistance to wards fund levies; (4) family and children’s fund levies; (5) children’s psychiatric residential treatment services fund levies; (6) children with special health care needs county fund levies; (7) the state forestry fund levy; (8) the state fair fund levy; and (9) the department of local government finance data base management levy. Changes the formula for determining the maximum permissible growth in certain levies and eliminates the authority of a county to restrict review of levies, tax rates, and budgets by a county board of tax and capital projects review. Requires a referendum on bond issues and lease agreements payable from property taxes or local income taxes and that cost at least 1% of a political subdivision’s total net assessed value or $10,000,000. Permits a referendum to increase a levy in excess of the amount approved by the county board of tax and capital projects review. Replaces the authority of a county to impose an annual levy growth tax rate, a public safety tax rate, and a property tax replacement tax rate with a single rate not to exceed 1%. Increases the gross retail and use tax to 7%. Establishes the transportation study committee. Makes other changes. Makes appropriations.

Link to information on the bill.

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