Hoosiers are a step closer to property tax relief after the Indiana House of Representatives on Thursday passed House Bill 1001 by a vote of 93-1. The bill now heads to the Indiana Senate.
The bill contains about $700 million in new property relief, along with $250 million in already scheduled relief for 2008 and about $300 million in relief in 2009. The immediate relief should cut most homestead property tax bills by about one-third.
It also removes school operating and transportation funding and child welfare funding from local property, shifting the responsibility to the state.
"The House just passed Gov. Daniels' landmark proposal to enact permanent property tax relief," said Rep. Phyllis Pond (R-New Haven). "The General Assembly voted with the taxpayer in mind today. Although there are some provisions of this bill I do not agree with, I am pleased to have voted to keep this property tax reform bill moving forward. I certainly expect the bill to be modified extensively in the Senate as well as the conference committee."
Several elements of the bill supported by Rep. Pond were eliminated or altered in the final bill, such as a state spending cap and a strong referendum process. The bill does not have a state spending cap, and voters would be allowed to vote only on school projects not directly related to classroom learning, such as athletic fields.
"I have great reservations about removing duties from township assessors because I believe it is best to keep governmental decisions at the county and township level as much as possible. I am pleased that the movement to make the county clerk appointed was defeated and that this position will remain elected. I support requiring a referendum on capital projects that require taxpayers to foot the bill, and I am hopeful that this aspect of the bill will be restored.
"Despite my reservations of some aspects of the bill, I am proud to report to Hoosiers that help is on the way, and immediate property tax relief will be delivered as hoped," said Rep. Pond.
Although the bill has been changed from its original form, it still contains several elements that Rep. Pond has fought for. It offers immediate property tax relief, includes caps on property taxation and includes at least some form of public referenda on public spending.