STATEHOUSE - A vote in the Indiana House on Feb. 25 stripped critical taxpayer approval provisions from major public construction project laws. House Bill 1730, supported by all 52 House Democrats, would allow any public building project in excess of $2 million to avoid the taxpayer referenda and petition-remonstrance requirements enacted in 2008 simply by constructing the project with "green technology" standards.
This proposal guts the taxpayer protections enacted in 2008, and will have a negative impact on property taxpayers throughout Indiana. The House Democrat support for this measure in House HB 1730 would create an exception to voter participation and approval in these projects that you could drive a truck through. Taxpayers should be furious over this one.
Voter referenda for major construction projects, generally those in excess of $10 million or $20 million, were included in the landmark "Cut Now/Cap Forever" property tax legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2008. Under the bill, any project for the construction, repair, alteration or retrofitting of a public building or structure would be exempt from the referenda requirement, or for smaller projects, the voter petition process that was enacted in 1995, provided the project is built to nationally recognized energy efficiency standards.
The irony is that the standards being promoted here actually make the initial cost of the project higher. While I support the inclusion of long-term efficiency standards for public projects, and incentives to state and local government for including them, to remove the key taxpayer referenda protection enacted in 2008 is a tragedy.
My House Republican colleagues and I will work with the Republican-controlled Senate to prevent the return to unchecked property tax increases Republicans so strongly oppose.
The bill, passed by a 52-48 party line vote, is now in the hands of the Senate.