STATEHOUSE-As I finish up a very blessed Christmas with my family and prepare for the New Year, I am anxiously awaiting the start of a new legislative session. State legislators will reconvene on January 5, and I am looking forward to working diligently on your behalf in 2010.
Will permanent property tax caps pass through the General Assembly? What about bringing jobs to Hoosiers and preventing tax increases to business owners on unemployment benefits?
There are a lot of scenarios that could play out, but there are priorities that we must focus on if we are to serve Hoosiers well. Before session gets under way, I want to reiterate some of the key pieces of legislation my Republican colleagues and I will be working hard to pass.
The first and most important item on our agenda is permanent property tax caps. During the 2008 session, we passed legislation that capped property taxes at 1 percent of assessed value for homeowners, 2 percent for rental property and agriculture and 3 percent for commercial property.
Now is the time to make those property tax caps permanent by writing them into the state's Constitution. If legislation on permanent property tax caps is passed by the General Assembly it will be placed on the November 2010 general election ballot for a public vote. Hoosiers deserve to have the reassurance that their property taxes will never again spiral out of control. Until the tax caps are permanently written in the constitution that safety is not guaranteed.
This last year has been one of the worst economic years in recent history. Hoosiers have been forced to tighten their belts and become frugal spenders. Over the past several months, Governor Mitch Daniels has had to ask for spending cuts to government agencies. These cuts have been tough to make but in doing so Indiana will come out better on the other end. I'm committed to making sure the legislature is working efficiently as well as being fiscally responsible. Hoosiers can be sure that during this session Republicans will not be wasting taxpayer dollars.
Speaking of keeping taxpayer money in the hands of taxpayers, over my objections the General Assembly enacted a massive tax increase on Indiana businesses last year to provide additional funding to the state's bankrupt Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. My House Republican colleagues and I knew that this was the worst thing we could do to employers who were already struggling to make ends meet so that they could continue to employ their workforce. The bill passed without a single Republican House member voting for it.
In December, the Senate introduced legislation that would delay the implementation of that tax increase for a year. I pledge to you that delaying or repealing such a massive tax increase on businesses will be a top priority for me during the 2010 session.
As always, the Statehouse is your house as well, so feel free to come down and watch the legislature in action. You can also watch from the convenience of your own computer at http://www.in.gov/legislative/session/video.html. Have a Happy New Year, and I am looking forward to representing you during the 2010 legislative session.