STATEHOUSE-The legislature adjourned the 2010 session at 1 a.m. on March 13 but not before passing several important bills with major implications for Hoosiers.
Key legislation that passed the General Assembly and has/will be signed by the governor includes:
· Referendum on permanent property tax caps; giving Hoosiers a chance to vote on the legislation in Nov.
· Additional property tax protection on agriculture property and assessments
· Legislative ethics reform
· One year delay on tax increase for employers on their unemployment insurance premiums
· School Funding Flexibility
· Job creation for Illiana Expressway construction
Permanent Property Tax Caps-House Joint Resolution 1
During the 2009 legislative session the General Assembly passed property tax caps legislation to ensure Hoosiers that their property taxes would not rise above 1 percent for homeowners of their assessed value, 2 percent for agriculture and rental property of their assessed value and 3 percent for businesses of their assessed value.
In order to fulfill our promise to Hoosiers, the General Assembly passed legislation to give voters the opportunity to vote in the November general election to write the property tax caps into our state's constitution.
Additional Property Taxpayer Protection-Senate Bill 396
Several provisions were made to the assessment process. Senate Bill (SB) 396 works in conjunction with the permanent property tax caps.
SB 396 provides that the year-over-year change in a taxpayer's property tax bill cannot exceed the growth of the Consumer Price Index annual growth.
Legislative Ethics Reform-House Bill 1001
The bill's provisions include:
. A one year waiting period before former legislators can register as lobbyists.
. More stringent reporting standards for gifts from $100 to $50.
Unemployment Insurance-Senate Bill 23
Due to the high rate of unemployment additional stress has been placed on the unemployment insurance trust fund. Therefore, an increase in the tax employers pay was raised during the 2009 legislative session. This unemployment tax is used to support employees when they are temporarily laid off.
On the final day of session this year, we were able to pass a one year delay on the unemployment insurance tax increase. This delay will give the legislature the opportunity to work this summer and fall to find the best solution for shoring up the $1.7 billion deficit in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. It is our belief that the best solution will include premiums, benefits and eligibility, not just increasing premiums.
In the meantime, I hope the tax delay will help businesses get back on their feet and begin hiring new Hoosiers workers.
School Funding Flexibility-House Bill 1367
School corporations were given the ability to reallocate up to 5 percent of their capital projects fund and up to 10 percent, if no employee receives a compensation increase for the 2010-2011 school year, excluding:
. Incremental increases
. Increase due to receiving an advanced degree
We worked hard to give schools the ability to transfer money amongst funds in an effort to make depleted funds solvent. We need to make sure teachers keep their jobs, so classroom sizes stay small.
The bill also included several additional measures requested by the governor to help young students with their education by enhancing their reading skills.
Remediation: requires schools to give priority in the allocation of resources to remediation programs to students who are deficient in reading skills in Grade 1 through Grade 3.
Reading Skills:requires the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in conjunction with the State Board of Education to develop a plan to improve reading skills of students and implement appropriate remediation techniques for students.
Illiana Expressway-Senate Bill 382
Hoosiers need jobs. Senate Bill 382 authorizes, but does not require, a public-private partnership to build the Illiana Expressway as a toll road.
Calls for the Illiana Expressway to be built between Interstate 65 in Indiana and an Interstate in Illinois with about 10 miles being built in Indiana.
This legislation has the potential to be one of the biggest job creators for the state's future, especially for construction workers.