(STATEHOUSE) Feb. 8, 2008 - Each year, before the legislative session begins, I send out a legislative survey to residents of District 49. I try to ask a variety of questions on issues that might come up in the General Assembly. Beyond attending community meetings, taking phone calls and answering e-mails and letters, the survey is a way for me to understand how residents of Elkhart County feel about issues.
This year's 10-question survey had three questions about property taxes, three questions about government restructuring, two questions about illegal immigration and a question each about school start date and preserving farmland.
Property tax reform issues are of the utmost importance this session, and I am striving for permanent caps on taxes with the idea of providing immediate tax relief.
One method that has been discussed is eliminating all property taxes and replacing the revenue with increases in sales and income taxes, which half of the respondents voted against.
It is important that the people have a say, which is why we provide you with these surveys. I understand that construction costs, such as libraries, schools and other capital projects are very high and we pay for most of the costs out of our property taxes. Voters should be given the opportunity to decide on major construction projects that affect our tax bills. A large portion, 72.66 percent, agreed in wanting a voice in large local construction projects that would be paid for by local property taxes.
My ultimate goal is lowering taxes while continuing to provide essential government services. If the General Assembly decides to spend more than the average income growth, it would have to be passed by a super-majority of two-thirds of the Legislature. I was glad to learn that 85.3 percent of respondents support that as well.
Another major issue this session is finding a solution to the concerns Hoosiers have about illegal immigration. According to Mitch Roob, secretary of the state Family and Social Services Administration, Indiana taxpayers spend about $5 million a year for Medicaid health care for undocumented aliens. The federal government also supplies additional money to help subsidize their health care. More than 90 percent of the constituent responses thought the state government should verify identification of the applicant before granting benefits. Another tremendous majority - 82.3 percent - thought employers should receive a fine for hiring illegal immigrants.
As always, I urge anyone with questions or concerns to contact my office because it really does make a difference. I am here to work hard for you, and I am more than willing to help with anything that I can. Call me at 1-800-382-9841 or e-mail me at H49@in.gov.
When I drive down to Indianapolis to vote on legislation, I always keep constituent wishes in mind. The phone calls, emails, letters and surveys are a key part of my decision making process.