We have reached the 2009 legislative session midpoint, and a lot has been happening. The surviving House and Senate legislation, ranging from the state budget to a bill on nutrition, will now face even more scrutiny and transformation on their way to potentially becoming law.There are plenty of bills I believe will help Indiana, but there are few bills I feel would do more harm to Hoosiers than help. I believe it's my duty to inform you of what has been going on at the Statehouse thus far.
I strongly opposed the state budget crafted by House Democrats, who broke with tradition and passed a one-year budget instead of a two-year plan. Currently, the budget would spend about $14.5 billion, with an enormous $1.4 billion of new spending. All this new spending would almost wipe out the state's reserve fund.
What's more, the budget base includes one-time federal stimulus money that, once spent, won't be available in future years. I believe this is an unwise move that would eventually result in either cutting crucial programs and services or force big tax increases. The House Democrats' budget spends too much and would hurt Indiana in the long run.
Another hot issue has been how to fix the state's unemployment insurance fund. I was disappointed in Democratic leadership, as the House failed to pass a bill that would fix this major problem. Thankfully, I believe the Senate will revive the issue and reach bipartisan solution that will work in the best interests of Hoosiers and Indiana businesses.
The property tax caps is another issue that needs to be addressed. This year, Senate Republicans were able to pass SJR 1, a bill that would permanently cap Hoosier property taxes by amending the caps into Indiana's Constitution. However, it appears unlikely the bill will receive a hearing in the House- even though a simple majority vote is all that is needed to send the proposal to be voted on by Hoosiers in 2010. I fully disagree with the House Democrats in believing that we should wait until next year to consider the proposal. Hoosiers are going currently going through tough economic times and need help right now, not later.
Coming over from the Senate are several bills dealing with local government reform. These bills will now be considered in the House.
It is important to note that the bills dealing with township government and school consolidation have been somewhat watered down, and the current legislation has come a long way since the governor's original proposals. I will review the legislation in the coming weeks to decide on the best direction to take.
I am continually aware I am here because you want me in this position. Please feel free to contact me with your concerns or questions, by email at email@example.com, by calling the Statehouse toll-free at 1-800-382-9841, or by writing me at the Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.