[r57] Slots Bill Passes House, Property Taxes Hurt Hoosiers (4/30/2007)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Start Date: 4/30/2007 All Day
End Date: 4/30/2007

(Statehouse) April 29, 2007- Late tonight, State Representative Sean Eberhart (R-Shelbyville) and the Indiana General Assembly completed the 2007 legislative session. House Enrolled Act 1835, the Horse Track Support Bill, House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1001, the state budget, and HEA 1678, the Healthy Hoosier Plan, were sent to the Governor for approval. Rep. Eberhart worked hard during this legislative session to move the Horse Track Support Bill through the process.

House Enrolled Act 1835 allows Indiana's two horse track permit holders to purchase a horse track gambling license, which authorizes up to 2,000 slot machines. The permit fee will cost each track $250 million and is valid for 10 years. The bill requires that the track devote 15% of the proceeds to the horse racing purses. A 25% slot machine wagering tax is imposed on the first $100 million of the annual adjusted gross receipts of wagering and 30% tax on receipts over $200 million. Revenue over $300 million will be taxed at a 35% rate. This wagering tax will be sent to the state General Fund to be used throughout the state. Three percent of the revenue will then be dispersed to the cities and towns in Madison and Shelby Counties according to population.

"This is a job creation and investment measure for our community. Indiana Downs is owned mostly by Hoosiers, while most other gaming locations are owned by out-state investors," stated Rep. Eberhart. "The profits from the other sites are exported outside the state while Indiana Downs revenue is reinvested throughout our area. This is a good measure to create an additional option for gaming at the same location that gaming occurs every day."

Rep. Eberhart also believes that property tax reform is one of the most crucial issues affecting Hoosiers. Legislators have studied the upcoming property tax cycle and discovered that trending values, reduced replacement credits, increased local property investment, and the final stage of the inventory tax elimination will combine to negatively affect Hoosier property owners this year. Experts believe that taxes may rise up to 23% for property owners.

The Indiana General Assembly was obligated to pass a biennial state budget, House Enrolled Act 1001, during this session. Rep. Eberhart has encouraged an honestly balanced budget with no tax increases, yet voted against the measure because of the lack of equitable property tax relief. While the state budget included some property tax relief, the measures did not adequately provided relief even close to the rising property tax bills. Rep. Ebehart voted against the measure.

On Property Tax Reform and the State Budget Bill: "We had an opportunity to cut state spending and flat-line or reduce property tax increases to historic averages. Unfortunately, neither the budget bill nor HEA 1478 provided enough relief. As a former member of the Shelby County Council, I could not allow these measures to tie local government's hands and allow such large increases to property tax bills," stated Rep. Eberhart.

Additionally, Rep. Eberhart voted on other major pieces of legislation during the final day of session. For example, House Enrolled Act 1678, the Healthy Hoosier Plan, received Rep. Eberhart's support. Over 100,000 low-income working Hoosiers that fall within the gaps of Medicaid will now have access to equitable health insurance after HEA 1678, the Healthy Hoosier Plan passed the legislature with a 70-29 vote.

The plan provides coverage for parents of Medicaid/SCHIP children, uninsured non-disabled childless adults, pregnant women, and children to age 24. Participants must be U.S. citizens, Indiana residents for 18 months, uninsured for six months, and ineligible for employer sponsored health insurance.

On the Healthy Hoosier Plan: "At the Statehouse, tough issues often require a balanced approach to decision-making. I supported the Healthy Hoosier Plan, which would have increased health coverage for families and children that fall within the gaps of Medicaid coverage, providing increased immunizations for children that would not have otherwise received the care. Simultaneously, the bill will increase the cost of cigarettes by 44-cents a pack, creating a disincentive for our young Hoosiers to start smoking."

For more information, please contact State Representative Sean Eberhart at the Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St., Room 401, Indianapolis, IN 46204, 1-800-382-9841, h57@in.gov.