Rep. Jeff Espich (R-Uniondale) took home a victory tonight as the 2010 legislation session Sine Die, or adjourned, shortly after midnight on Friday, March 12.
In the final hours of session, legislators passed House Bill 1367 by a 97-0 vote to allow schools the flexibility to transfer money between various funds to make up for reduced revenue. In addition, Senate Bill 23 passed by an 85-12 vote to delay the unemployment insurance premium tax increase passed last year.
"After two months of many drawn-out conversations and debate, we were able to close session on a positive note by coming to an agreement allowing flexibility in educational funding," Rep. Espich said. "It's great when legislators put aside their differences in order to help our struggling schools during theses trying times.
"Children only learn once, so we needed to do right by them and make sure to get it right the first time."
For the past two years, as the State of Indiana has continued to lose income and sales tax revenue due to the national recession, every state agency and school has undergone severe cuts and employee salary freezes.
School corporations have seen reductions in revenue and had to make tough decisions to try to avoid teacher reduction. House Bill 1367 will ease some of the financial burdens schools are currently facing.
Senate Bill 23 was introduced to delay the unemployment premium tax increase passed in 2009 in House Enrolled Act 1379. Without Senate Bill 23, more than 80,000 small, medium and large businesses would have seen a $300 million tax increase in April 2010. Although he did not vote for the tax increase, Espich was pleased to see a delay adopted.
"Passing legislation to delay the horrendous unemployment insurance tax increase was the best thing we could have done to ensure Hoosier businesses don't have any additional tax burdens," Rep. Espich said. "Legislators worked long and hard to come to this agreement, and I am glad we were all able to put our party politics aside and come to an agreement. It's a tremendous victory for all Hoosier businesses at a time when we must maintain and obtain jobs in Indiana."
Both bills now head to the governor's office to be signed into law.
Earlier this session, House Republicans passed two monumental pieces of legislation.
House Joint Resolution 1, the constitutional amendment to permanent cap homeowner's property taxes was passed within two weeks of session to allow Hoosier voters the opportunity to decide in the November 2010 election whether permanent property tax caps should be added to the state constitution.
In addition, Senate Bill 382 was passedto authorize, but not require, a public-private partnership to build the Illinana Expressway as a toll road. The plan calls to build the Illiana between Interstate 65 in Indiana with Interstate 57 in Illinois with about 10 miles being built in Indiana.
It is estimated that every $100 million in highway construction supports 1,200 to 1,900 construction jobs. In the end, the Illiana project would bring in $600 million and approximately 11,400 construction jobs.