[r20] Dermody Supports Immediate Relief and Long-term Reform for Pulaski County Taxpayers (3/14/2008)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Start Date: 3/14/2008 All Day
End Date: 3/14/2008
Hoosier taxpayers will see immediate property tax relief, and the process for permanent property tax reform has begun. The immediate relief is in the form of homestead property tax credits at a statewide average of almost 30 percent, $1 billion removed from property taxes, strict caps on property tax rates and controls on public spending.

Permanent reform is contained in Senate Joint Resolution 1, which begins the process of adding permanent rate caps to the Indiana Constitution.

The vote on HB 1001 was 82-17, and the vote on SJR 1 was 79-20.

"Unfair property tax bills have been a problem for far too many years. It was time to ensure taxpayers received the relief they deserved," said Rep. Tom Dermody (R-LaPorte). "There are bad parts of the bill, but, overall, I am confident that this plan effectively addresses the needs of Pulaski County taxpayers by cutting property tax bills and capping them permanently through a constitutional amendment.

"By voting 'Yes' on this bill I believe I represent the many homeowners who suffered financially in this past year due to unfair property tax bills. Their voice has finally been heard. We cannot cave into the special interests that would have us ignore the reform taxpayers have so long demanded. The bill will bring more than 25 percent in immediate relief statewide and it benefits low-income seniors by freezing their tax bill.

"Local governments will still have the opportunity to obtain funding required to provide quality services for their communities. They will have the tools they need to pursue additional funding options, if they deem it necessary.

"As a whole, the bill takes substantial steps toward resolving Indiana's property tax crisis. The passage of the bill marks a win for homeowners. This is truly the year of the taxpayer."

House Bill 1001, which was based on the House Republicans' Standards for Success, empowers voters to control local spending through referenda, and it closes spending loopholes and improves oversight on local budgets.

These are highlights of the property tax plan:

n Help for Hoosier homeowners. The plan features $620 million in immediate relief for 2008, $1 billion removed from property tax levies, referenda that empower voters to control or allow spending and a constitutional guarantee of property tax caps. There also is $140 million of relief in 2009, and $80 million of relief in 2010.

n Help for all Hoosier property-tax payers. Cut now and cap forever. The plan, in addition to immediate relief, forwards the process of permanent caps through a constitutional guarantee of property tax caps. SJR 1 begins the process of permanent caps of 1 percent of assessed value for homesteads, 2 percent for rental and agricultural properties and 3 percent for all others.

n Help for local governments. The plan, at the county level, removes from property taxes the costs of four child-welfare levies, juvenile incarceration and health care for the indigent. At the municipal level, it removes the remaining pre-1977 police and fire pensions from property taxes, and it includes support for police and fire services.

n Help for Hoosier schools. The plan removes school operations and special education preschool costs from property taxes. It also includes $120 million in circuit-breaker relief and $400 million in tuition reserve fund money.

n Help for low-income and senior citizen Hoosiers. The plan includes an overall decrease in taxes for low-income taxpayers, renters' deductions, caps for low-income senior-citizen homeowners and earned income credits.

HB 1001 now goes to Gov. Daniels, who has expressed support for the plan.

SJR 1 will be presented to the next General Assembly. If the same version passes that Legislature, it will be placed on the statewide ballot for all Hoosier voters. If they approve it, the caps will become part of the state Constitution.