Property Tax Caps clear major hurdle

Indiana Republican Caucus e-mail newsletter:

Property Tax Caps clear major hurdle
Final house vote expected Monday

Hoosiers are now one step closer to voting for permanent property tax protection after overcoming several hurdles on Thursday. House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR1) would cap homeowner’s property taxes at one percent, rental and agricultural property at two percent and business property at three percent. This passed on second reading without amendments in spite of House Democrats attempt to delay passage of the caps. Any amendment to HJR1 would have jeopardized the opportunity for Hoosiers to vote on the caps on the 2010 election ballot.

House Democrats filed three amendments, only offered two, withdrew one and passed none. HJR1 will be eligible for third reading and final passage on Monday.

House Republicans pledged to add this reform to the Indiana State Constitution. In order for a new provision to be added to the state constitution, the same language must be passed by two separately elected General Assemblies as well as the public before it can be amended to the constitution. During the 2008 legislative session, the General Assembly started the process to amend the caps into Indiana’s Constitution. The caps passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. In the 2010 legislative session, House Republicans look forward to supporting HJR 1 and giving Hoosier voters the opportunity to decide whether permanent property tax caps should be added to the state constitution.

If the constitutional amendment to permanently cap property taxes passes both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly during the 2010 legislative session, Hoosiers will be able to vote on this issue in the November 2010 election.

With HJR1 now eligible and ready for final passage in the House on Monday, House Republicans can focus on job creation and meaningful government reform.

Job Creation

It is critical that Indiana have a thriving economy where Hoosier innovation and entrepreneurship can succeed. House Republicans are proposing three agenda initiatives to protect and grow jobs:

Support the Delay of the Unemployment Insurance Tax Increase

  • House Republicans did not support the bill from last session for several reasons; the primary reason was that the bill punished employers with one of the largest tax increases in state history during an unprecedented economic downturn.
  • Review All Available Job Incentives so that Indiana can Pool the Current Incentive Funding so Hoosier Employers can Hire and Retain Hoosier Jobs
  • Phase-in corporate income tax on new Hoosier employers
  • Given the current state of the national economy, the competition among states for new jobs is extremely aggressive. Indiana can capitalize on its position as a job-friendly state by phasing in the corporate income tax in order to encourage new businesses to locate in Indiana.
  • Allowing new employers to phase in their income tax will be a great incentive that many states around the country will not be able to compete with.
  • Additionally, since this only affects new businesses that have not previously paid corporate income tax in Indiana, it would not result in a negative balance on the state’s bottom line.

Government Reform

  • House Republicans also pledged to ensure the legislative process at all levels is open and transparent to Hoosier taxpayers by providing increased lobbyist and legislator disclosures, creating an independent redistricting commission and encouraging efficiencies for local governments.

Continue To Champion Government Reform

  • Huge steps were taken in 2005 and 2006 by streaming legislative debates live over the Internet, instituting the unprecedented policy of having the state’s two-year budget available to the public 48 hours prior to passage, creating the Inspector General’s Office to combat fraud and waste in state government, and stopping the process of proxy voting at committee meetings.

Concentrate Efforts On Lobbyists Reforms

  • Continue focusing on the regulation of lobbyist gift and expenditure reporting, enacting tougher lobbyist registration and disclosure standards, and increasing the transparency of legislator financial disclosure.
  • House Republicans will continue as we have over the last five years to be champions of open government and continue to promote common sense proposals that ensure the legislative process is open and transparent.

Improve Redistricting Reform

  • In 2006, House Republicans passed legislation calling for an independent redistricting commission. Our commission would be made up of 5 members with the Speaker, House Minority Leader, President Pro Tempore, Senate Minority Leader and Chief Justice. The four members would appoint a fifth member to be the chair. If there is no consensus on the 5th member, the Chief Justice appoints the chair. The commission will conduct at least 1 public comment hearing in Northern, Central and Southern Indiana.
  • The commission must develop maps for the Indiana General Assembly’s consideration based on the following standards: districts established on basis of population; only a 1% population deviation allowed; districts must be contiguous and compact to the extent practicable and shall not breach precinct boundaries; districts must coincide with boundaries of political subdivisions and minimize the number of counties and cities divided among more than 1 district; and political data may be used to the extent necessary to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act.

Continued County and Township Reform and Accountability

  • With Indiana facing some of the most difficult economic times witnessed in decades, now is the time for Indiana to continue to lead the nation in fiscal responsibility with a focus on government reform.
  • House Republicans will continue to support measures that allow government to work in the most cost efficient way while ensuring essential services are not compromised.

For more information, visit the House Republican Web site.

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