[r49] Rep. Ulmer's Column (2/22/2008)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Start Date: 2/22/2008 All Day
End Date: 2/22/2008

(STATEHOUSE) Feb. 22, 2008 -   For a plan that had been moving along in a relatively smooth manner this session, the property tax cap, Senate Joint Resolution 1 (SJR 1), hit an unexpected speed bump on Wednesday. During a House Ways and Means Committee meeting, Rep. Bill Crawford proposed an amendment that changed the main point of the property tax reform plan that was proposed, the tax caps.

While there would still be caps with the amended legislation, there would be a change in what the caps are based on. In the original plan, the 1 percent cap was based on the assessed value of the home. Under the changes adopted, the cap is based off of 1 percent of the household income.  I, for one, am very disappointed in this late change to the constitutional cap.

Even though Rep. Crawford authored this amendment, I felt very concerned when he, nor anyone else for that matter, was able to answer basic questions concerning the new proposal. The Ways and Means Committee was not given any analysis or fiscal data for this amendment, because it simply does not exist.  I am seriously concerned that we are discussing amending the constitution and Democrats have no idea what fiscal impact their changes will have to homeowners.

While blindly changing the Constitution caps, the majority party also severely weakened homeowner protection.  With the original cap we overwhelmingly passed 93-1, all existing debt, like school construction would have fallen under the 1 percent cap on assessed value.  The new Democrat proposal excludes existing debt.  This would have a tremendous impact on your tax bill.  Depending on which taxing district you live in, 25 to 30 percent property tax bills are made up of debt services.

I, like many other of my fellow representatives, feel it is very important to get a piece of legislation moving along so that it can pass through and provide much needed relief for people all over the state. However, I do not appreciate how there was overwhelming support for House Bill 1001, and now that we are looking at the Senate version, such a drastic change is being made.

There is still hope in this situation though.  SJR 1 still has two more readings to go through in the house and after that, it is likely that it will go to conference committee.  In any of these steps, the bill can be cleaned up so that we ensure the people of Indiana the best and most fair form of property tax relief.

As always, I encourage anyone with questions or concerns to contact my office. I am more than willing to help with anything that I can. I am here to work hard for you and hopefully you will have an opportunity to see this for yourself.  You can either call me at 1-800-382-9841 or you can e-mail me at H49@in.gov.