Gov. Daniels focused almost his entire speech on his property tax reform plan, which this week passed out of the Ways and Means Committee. The governor's proposal provides immediate and permanent relief for homeowners by introducing extra homestead credits and having the state assume the levy costs for school operation and child welfare. Additionally, future property tax bills would be capped at 1 percent for homeowners, 2 percent for rental property and 3 percent for businesses. This would result in property tax cuts of 39 percent for homesteads, 27 percent for rentals, 15 percent for businesses and 21 percent for personal property.
The plan also includes local government spending caps, which would include caps on counties, cities, towns, schools and libraries. Spending would be capped at the county's personal income growth rate. Further, residents would be allowed to vote on significant local building projects to keep spending in-check.
The assessment system would be overhauled, bringing training and certification to the process and reducing 1,100 assessors statewide down to one assessor per county. The assessor would be appointed by the county commissioners and county council.
All 100 House members will hear the bill and be able to offer amendments next week. I believe the bill will ultimately be changed, possibly evening out some of the caps on property taxes.
Besides property tax relief, I am also working on other legislation this year. One bill that I am a co-author on was heard this week was HB 1060, the Great Lakes Compact. The compact is a regional agreement to help monitor, manage and protect water resources from the Great Lakes. The compact instructs each state in the Great Lakes region to regulate water use and adopt conservation plans for protecting the waters of the five great lakes.
Another bill that I co-authored, HB 1113, passed out of committee. The bill would increase the penalty for lying when applying for a birth certificate or altering a birth certificate. The penalty would be increased to a Class D felony, which is punishable with six months to three years in jail and a $10,000 fine. This bill would help deter illegal aliens from fraudulently obtaining a birth certificate and helping them stay in our country. I will continue to work on this bill to help it become law.
As always, I urge 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 I hope you will have an opportunity to see this for yourself. You may either call me at 1-800-382-9841 or e-mail me at H49@in.gov.