[r85] Pond on the Little Red Schoolhouse Amendment (2/19/2008)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Start Date: 2/19/2008 All Day
End Date: 2/19/2008

The Little Red Schoolhouse amendment made to House Bill 1001, the property tax reform package, is still under consideration by the General Assembly and was referred recently to the Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy. This amendment is one I am a strong advocate for because it will assist in reducing tax bills and help to improve the efficiency of our schools.  

Over half of the State's budget goes to education. Of that, over 60 percent goes to debt services, which means that this money is used to pay for schools already built. The Little Red Schoolhouse bill will provide five or six predetermined plans to a school system that they can use to build new schools. Schools will be able to alter the plans in any way they choose. This could potentially save school corporations and taxpayers millions of dollars in design fees.

A while back a school superintendant told me they are building their second middle school using the same plans they had just used to build another. It saved them $1.6 million on a $16 million dollar building. 10 percent is a significant savings for taxpayers, and these savings will ultimately be reflected on your property tax bill. Also, taxpayers in that school district should be pleased to know that the money school systems will be saving on plans can be spent on materials in the classroom and overall provide more funding to the students "actual" education or lower property taxes.

Many states have already implemented this plan and school corporations are saving millions. One thing to keep in mind is that schools are different from other public entities because they build numerous similar buildings in such a short period of time.

This is a bipartisan issue, and Gov. Daniels is examining every way to keep property tax money from continuing to drain from Indiana's leaky school construction bucket. The governor's tax plan complements this amendment in many ways, and I stand with the governor in wanting more money to go to classroom instruction - The Little Red Schoolhouse amendment, once implemented, does exactly that.

I will continue to work hard this legislative session to improve the quality of education and services for the citizens of Allen and DeKalb counties to ultimately provide immediate tax relief to all taxpayers.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 1-800-382-9841, e-mail me at h85@iga.in.gov, or write to me at 200 W. Washington St. Indianapolis, IN 46204.