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.
It also removes school operating and transportation funding and child welfare funding from local property, shifting the responsibility to the state.
"Although I am mindful of the fact that this process has just begun, I am excited that permanent property tax relief has taken this important step forward," said Rep. Tom Saunders (R-Lewisville). "It is my top priority to protect homeowners this session, and the passage of this bill means that Hoosiers will finally receive the relief they deserve. I have some concerns that we are treating residential, rental and commercial properties differently, but the ultimate result of this bill will be lower property tax bills for our communities."
Several elements of the bill supported by Rep. Saunders 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.
Although the bill has been changed from its original form, it still contains several elements that Rep. Saunders has 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. Additionally, Rep. Saunders' amendment to return the county assessor to an elected position passed and exists in the current form of the bill.