[r49] Tax Relief Advances Out of House (1/24/2008)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Start Date: 1/24/2008 All Day
End Date: 1/24/2008

(STATEHOUSE) Jan. 24, 2008 - Hoosiers are a step closer to property tax relief after the Indiana House of Representatives on Thursday passed House Bill 1001 by a vote of 93-1. The bill now heads to the Indiana Senate.

The bill contains about $700 million in new property relief, along with $250 million in already scheduled relief for 2008 and about $300 million in relief in 2009. The immediate relief should cut most homestead property tax bills by about one-third.

"The only way to bring immediate relief is with this bill because it is the only one moving," said Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Lakeville). "Homeowners need relief and while this bill is far from perfect, when I was marching in the streets with fed-up taxpayers this summer I pledged I would fight for property tax relief. This bill fails to control state government growth, and I am hopeful that the final version we vote on in March will control state spending. I still believe if we push hard enough, we can repeal residential property taxes."

It also removes school operating and transportation funding and child welfare funding from local property, shifting the responsibility to the state.

Several elements of the House Republicans' Standards for Success were eliminated or altered in the final bill, such as a state spending cap and a strong referendum process. The bill does not have a state spending cap, and voters would be allowed to vote only on school projects not directly related to classroom learning, such as athletic fields.

"This remains an imperfect bill, but the advantages outweigh the disadvantages," said Rep. Tim Neese (R-Granger). "There was substantial compromise between Republicans and Democrats and that was reflected in the floor discussion with both parties expressing some disappointment in the legislation. I wish that true referendum language were included in the bill. I think people should be able to vote on the local projects causing their property taxes to increase."

Although the bill has been changed from its original form, it still contains several elements that House Republicans have fought for. It offers immediate property tax relief, includes caps on property taxation and includes at least some form of public referenda on public spending.

"I will continue to work on property tax relief as the session moves along," said Rep. John Ulmer (R-Goshen). "There are some key items, like a state spending cap and a true referendum, that I would have liked to see included in the bill but, with bipartisan support, the final product will make taxpayers come out ahead."