STATEHOUSE (Jan. 10, 2008) - Indiana House Republicans have a single focus for the 2008 session: Solve the property tax crisis. These standards for success lead to that solution.
Hoosiers across the state have been devastated by exponential increases in property taxes on their homes, and their incomes have not kept pace with the higher bills. Coupled with growth in government spending, some of it seemingly unchecked, the pocketbooks of Hoosier homeowners have been stretched to the breaking point.
Indiana has struggled with its court ordered market-based assessment system, the result of a series of court challenges dating back to the early 1990's. Hoosier taxpayers have become increasingly frustrated with the process and the varied results they have seen so far, and they have let legislators know.
In public hearings, letters to the editor and through legislative surveys, the people of Indiana have made it clear that they do not believe the system is working in their best interests.
And if it is not working in the best interests of taxpayers, it is not working in the best interests of Indiana.
"By having a single assessment official in each county, we are seeking to professionalize the assessment process and provide tax payers with single point accountability," said Rep. Matt Bell (R-Avilla). "Any further reform to the shape and function of local government needs far more substantive debate than will be possible this session. My ultimate goal is to move towards a fair, equitable and consistent tax system that is not overly reliant on any one tax stream, particularly property tax. We have to make property tax bold, immediate, and permanent and we must do it now."
Gov. Mitch Daniels has proposed an innovative plan to restructure the property tax system, and it has impressed House Republicans. Daniels' plan is well-represented in the 2008 standards for success.
Here are the House Republicans' standards for success in 2008:
Immediate property tax cut by May 2008.
Strong state and local spending caps.
Permanent 1 percent of assessed valuation homestead cap.
Remove schools and welfare from property tax.
Make caps and levy removals permanent.
Referenda for local construction and budget increases.
School construction projects built on local option income tax.
Fund all cuts with sales tax alone.
Single assessment official in each county.