STATEHOUSE (March 24, 2009) - Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) voted Monday to give Hoosier taxpayers more than $200 million in extra property tax relief by making the 1-, 2- and 3-percent property tax caps effective a year early.
Under House Enrolled Act 1001, which became law last year, those caps were scheduled to become effective with property taxes paid in 2010, but Rep. Torr and the House voted 85-11 today to make them effective with property taxes payable this year. The vote came on an amendment to Senate Bill 388, which deals with property tax levies for mental health services. The bill now moves to a third and final reading in the House.
"After House Democrats spent so much time fighting us on making the property tax caps permanent, I was surprised that they offered this amendment to speed up the tax cap phase-in," Rep. Torr said. "And while this may be a purely political move on the part of House Democratic leadership, I think it sends a resounding message that property tax caps can help Hoosier families in this difficult economic time.
"At this point, their argument against making the caps permanent so that we can wait to see how property tax caps work in the phase-in process holds no value, because we voted today to make them fully effective this year."
Based on figures from the Legislative Services Agency, a bipartisan division that serves as the research wing of the General Assembly, reducing the limits from their current 1½-, 2½- and 3½-percent levels to 1, 2 and 3 percent will save Hoosier taxpayers more than $200 million.
"Now is the time to continue the process to make these caps permanent," Rep. Torr said. "The House sent a strong bipartisan message today by approving this amendment, and that message makes it clear that property tax caps work. Now let's protect them, and let voters decide whether to write them into the state constitution."
SJR 1 contains the constitutional amendment with the permanent property tax caps of 1, 2 and 3 percent. Both houses of the General Assembly passed SJR 1 last session, and the Senate, with bipartisan support, already passed it this session.
The property tax caps would limit bills to 1 percent of the property's assessed value for homesteads, 2 percent for agricultural property and 3 percent for business property. To become part of the Indiana Constitution, an amendment must be passed by two consecutive, separately elected sessions of the General Assembly and by Hoosier voters in the next general election.