I think this is somewhat different, but I suppose it could be routine. The House and Senate adopted House Concurrent Resolution 1. It allows the House and the Senate to adjoin and recess separately throughout the session for periods exceeding three consecutive days as the Speaker and the President pro tem decide is necessary.
Niki Kelly has an article on the unusual action taken with respect to HB 1010 on Organization Day where the General Assembly suspended their rules to rush through a bill to legalize retroactively the actions taken by Governor Daniels with respect to property tax matters.
The bill legalized three major actions taken by the governor during the summer to help abate the property tax crisis in some areas. This includes extending the deadline for the homestead credit, extending the deadline for local governments to adopt a new local option income tax and clarifying that property appraisals are not needed to appeal a homeâ€™s assessed value.
The legislation also contains a provision that eliminates the requirement that rebate amounts first be applied to tax amounts owed by delinquent tax debtors. Apparently the process of checking tax delinquencies was going to hold up the rebate process. Local government is permitted, however, to adopt an ordinance requiring payment of delinquent taxes before the rebate check goes out.
I can’t get too riled up about the substantive changes made by this legislation, but generally I disapprove of this kind of slap-dash, after the fact legislating. The law loses its value if it’s unstable and subject to rapid change, even retroactive change.
Mary Beth Schneider, writing for the Indianapolis Star, has an article entitled Cut property tax bills in half? Panel votes on plan today. The State Tax and Financing Policy Commission will apparently vote on a proposal. These legislative study committees have only an advisory role, so legally the vote has no particular effect. However, as bills work their way through the legislature, if a bill has been recommended by a study committee, the digest of the bill will mention something to the effect of “The introduced version of this bill was prepared by the State Tax and Financing Policy Commission.”
I could have sworn the committee had declined to make a recommendation. Perhaps they have new information. Perhaps the Indianapolis mayoral election results have them spooked.
Senator Kenley, who leads the commission declined to provide many details. However, the recommendations will apparently include a focus on “restructuring Indiana’s local government revenue process.” To me, that suggests township assessors, at least, are in for a world of trouble.
If you want some hard numbers on Indiana’s tax system, LSA has prepared a nice summary (pdf) of Indiana Property Tax Revenues. Some quick stats. Of the 2007 county levy, the revenues are consumed in the following proportions: Schools 48%, Counties 22%, Cities/Towns 18%, “Special” 5%, Libraries 4%, and Townships 3%. Counties spend 24% of their money on Child Welfare, 57% on operating costs, 10% on debt service, and 9% on capital.
The summary also has information on revenue by tax source, comparisons with tax structures of neighboring states, and loads of pretty charts.
The AP also has an article on Kenley’s proposal here.
Kenley, R-Noblesville, said the commission will consider a package of ideas that could be turned into bill proposals for the 2008 legislative session. The upcoming session is expected to be dominated by the issue of property taxes because although taxes on homeowners were projected to increase by 24 percent on average statewide this year, many taxpayers have faced even higher bills.
Kenley said the recommendations that will be presented to the panel will include ways to restructure Indiana’s local government revenue process.
“The commission recognizes property taxes are a big issue and that many other problems are created because of them for businesses, homeowners and senior citizens on fixed incomes,” said Kenley, who also is chairman of the Senate Tax Committee.
The Evansville Courier Press expresses optimism that the legislature will begin work early on a property tax plan. Their logic is not crystal clear — they somehow think that an early start is proof against the usual tactic of legislators waiting until the last minute to make agreements, hoping to wring concessions from opposing legislators as the clock winds down. Hope springs eternal, I guess.
Also in the Evansville Courier Press is an opinion column by David Coker, head of the Vanderburgh County Taxpayers Association who claims that Gov. Daniels has “turned his back” on his conservative roots with respect to The Daniels Plan to reduce property taxes and increase sales taxes.
By refusing to put into place firm and lasting reductions in the spending and borrowing habits of all forms of state and local government, or consulting the taxpayers of this state prior to devising his plan, Daniels has turned his back on his own conservative roots and the political culture of this state.
As the twin beasts of state and local government continue to devour a larger and larger portion of private wealth and income throughout this state, one must ask the following question: Where are all the real conservatives among our state’s elected officials?
When will this madness ever end?
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
I can’t think of all the names at the moment, but it seems like a lot of House Democratic incumbents are going to be off the ballot in 2008. Ok, it looks like Denbo’s resignation had been anticipated for awhile now but hadn’t been formally announced. I imagine there is strategic value of some sort to Denbo’s resignation coming right after election day. The other Democratic vacancies are Dave Crooks (Washington); Joe Micon (West Lafayette); Bob Kuzman (Crown Point); and Duane Cheney/Jack Clem.
Update More on Rep. Denbo’s resignation here. He says he needs a better income than just a legislator’s salary — he used to be an insurance agent but couldn’t keep the business afloat while he was active as a legislator. The article also says he is getting a divorce. It doesn’t explicitly say that this is why he needs more money, but a correlation between the two is certainly plausible.