According to Kos’s math, Sen. Clinton may have picked up 2 or 3 delegates on Obama. As expected, she won Ohio and Texas, though not by anything like the margins she had 2 weeks ago when these contests were gearing up. And, ultimately, she failed to cut into Obama’s delegate lead in any significant way.
The Journal Gazette has an editorial this morning on the property tax “crisis.” The paper accurately points out that the State government created the property tax situation, such as it is. I think this can’t be pointed out often enough given Gov. Daniels’ and other state officials insistence on blaming local government at every opportunity.
Lawmakers are reacting â€“ some might say overreacting â€“ to 2007 property tax bills, many of which were much higher than property owners expected. Some of the most egregiously high bills were in Marion County, where the media reaching the most Hoosiers are concentrated and where residents have close access to the doors of the Statehouse. In some other counties, including Allen, increases were lower, and rebate checks covered much of the increases.
The editorial concludes:
â€¢ Months after the property tax â€œrevolt,â€ homeowners began receiving rebate checks, often for hundreds of dollars, taking some sting out of the 2007 bite.
â€¢ Lawmakers had already approved $250 million in property tax relief for 2008, money coming from slot machines at the stateâ€™s two horse tracks.
â€¢ While lawmakers are giving lots of attention to â€œcircuit breakersâ€ that cap an individual homeownerâ€™s property tax bill, another version already in state law was set to take effect this year.
â€¢ The state has ordered reassessments for Marion County and other problem counties.
â€¢ The big jump caused by trending in 2007 was the first time property values had been updated in six years. The 2008 bills will show only a one-year increase.
Legislators may complain long and hard about high property taxes, but it was the legislature that is largely responsible for the 2007 spike. Lawmakers should be cautious not to create even greater problems with their actions this year.
More evidence that taxes are being shifted under recent property tax proposals, not reduced. (H/t Taking Down Words). The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette takes a look at winners and losers under the new property tax proposal:
Shifting tax burden
Examples of how the proposed property tax reform plan would affect owners of homes in Wayne Township annually. The examples assume homeowners will begin paying a 7 percent sales tax plus an additional local income tax of one-half of 1 percent:
HOME VALUE: $40,000
Property tax savingsâ€¦ -$122
Higher sales taxâ€¦+$203
Higher income taxâ€¦+$175
HOME VALUE: $80,000
Property tax savingsâ€¦-$266
Higher sales taxâ€¦+$240
Higher income taxâ€¦+$250
HOME VALUE: $100,000
Property tax savingsâ€¦-$374
Higher sales taxâ€¦+$240
Higher income taxâ€¦+$250
HOME VALUE: $200,000
Property tax savingsâ€¦-$1,656
Higher sales taxâ€¦+$380
Higher income taxâ€¦+$500
HOME VALUE: $500,000
Property tax savingsâ€¦-$5,871
Higher sales taxâ€¦+$600
Higher income taxâ€¦+$1,250
Source: Indiana Senate Caucus staff
Ahhh. Sweet relief! The table comes with an accompanying editorial by the Journal Gazette:
In many counties, based on preliminary analyses, â€œmiddle-class and lower-class homeowners lose, and higher-class homeowners win,â€ said Matt Greller, executive director of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns.
Invoking a property tax â€œcrisisâ€ that was largely of their own making (see Monday’s editorial), legislative leaders are pushing plans that would crimp the ability of local governments to provide services that citizens want.
Niki Kelly has a good summary of where the legislature stands with respect to restructuring Indiana’s taxes to reduce the property tax component. The plan starts with a 16.6% increase in the sales tax (from $0.06 of every dollar to $0.07). That part of the plan is something upon which the “three sides” apparently agree — the three relevant sides being Gov. Daniels, the House Democrats, and the Senate Republicans.
In addition, Ms. Kelly reports, there are 5 main components:
1. Circuit breakers. These cap the maximum potential property tax at a percentage of the property’s assessed value. One percent for owner occupied residential; two percent for other residential; and three percent for business. This is in the ordinary legislation but also proposed as a constitutional amendment. The House Democrats have proposed basing the Constitutional cap on income rather than assessed property value.
2. State assumption of local education and child welfare levies.
3. Local spending controls. “All” sides (meaning 3 parts of the State Government) blame local government despite local government’s relatively small contribution to the property tax problem.
4. Referendums on local construction projects.
5. Overhauling the township assessor system.
Now we’re into the final push. The papers tell us that property tax payers are demanding relief. We’ll see if they get that along with a side of sales tax increase.
Lesley Stedman Weidenbener, writing for the Louisville Courier Journal, has an article entitled “Annexation Bill’s Demise No Surprise.” A bill that passed the Senate would have required a city to receive the permission of every affected property owner before annexing property. This is a radical departure from current law which places the burden on those seeking to resist annexation – requiring them to get signatures of 65% of affected property owners before they can even get to a judge. That bill died in the House.
The column also discusses the current practice of obtaining annexation waivers. A city will extend water and sewer services to developers in exchange for waivers to challenging future annexation. The waiver runs with the land to whoever buys the developed land. Apparently there is some gaming of that system, where a city will obtain enough waivers to prevent affected landowners in a future annexation from getting the 65% of signatures needed.
Mike Smith, writing for the AP, has more on the House Republicans’ walkout over parliamentary shenanigans associated with the immigration bill. The way I see it, the House Republicans tried to get a little too cute – attempting the very rare, and rarely successful, stunt of filing a minority committee report; and Bauer figured out a way to burn them on it. Now they’re pissed.
To recap – Sen. Delph got his immigration bill through the Senate. It would have penalized employers for employing illegal aliens. It would have had effects that I find objectionable, but it wasn’t entirely unreasonable. It went to the House where it was tweaked in committee in ways that Sen. Delph probably didn’t entirely care for, but his bill was still recognizable as amended by the committee report. In the normal course of business, the majority committee report would have been adopted and then the amended bill would have been open for further amendments on the floor of the House. Instead, the House Republicans offered a minority committee report that went far beyond addressing the issue of illegally employing immigrants without proper documentation. The House Democrats retaliated by taking Delph’s bill, as reported out of committee, and offering it as an amendment to another bill having to do with employer-employee relations; doing so at the last minute to block House Republicans from amending Delph’s immigrant employment language. The House Republicans probably had reasonable ways in which they wanted to try to amend the immigrant employment language but got caught with their pants down playing games with other immigration issues. Now they look bad, and they’re angry about it.
None of this is serving the public very well — the gamesmanship on both sides is jeopardizing a bill I don’t care much for personally, but which isn’t completely beyond the pale. If I were an implacable opponent of Delph’s bill, I’d be really happy with the House Republicans right now. They were more interested in having the political issue of immigration to run on in the elections than in trying to pass illegal employment legislation and, as a result, the legislation is in peril and the House Republicans look bad. To be sure, the House Democrats don’t look great either, but despite what I tell my kids, “He started it” actually does have some persuasive force.
February 2004 – House Republicans storm out over gay marriage amendment – “the most important thing facing the legislature,” according to Republican leader, Brian Bosma.
March 2 – 3, 2005 – House Democrats decline to take the floor, “car bombing” the Governor’s “reforms.” At issue were statewide Daylight Saving, an Inspector General, and a picture, government ID requirement for in-person voting.
2006 – 2007 are like the years without Christmas, I don’t recall any walkouts.
2008 – Democrats get shafty, Republicans get mad.
Republicans have walked off the floor of the Indiana House in protest of a move by majority Democrats to prevent any GOP amendments to legislation aimed at penalizing companies that hire illegal immigrants.
Republicans said the legislation was too weak and they wanted to make changes to it. But to prevent votes on any changes, Democrats took language in the bill and filed it as an amendment to another bill.
They did that four minutes before a deadline to file amendments on bills up for consideration Thursday. Republicans said the bill Democrats were trying to use as a new home for the immigration language had nothing to do with immigration.
It’s kind of odd, though – as of right now, the legislature’s page doesn’t show any filed House amendments for SB 335. So it’s unclear what, if any, amendments to the bill were being proposed by the House Republicans.
Oh, wait, I get it. The House Republicans filed a minority committee report. I’m not sure what the tactical advantages are for a minority committee report as opposed to just trying to amend the bill on Second Reading. The procedure pretty much never works and is either ignored or becomes the source of controversy.
In this case, the House Republicans wanted to go well beyond anything in Sen. Delph’s original proposal. Rather than focusing on employers who hire illegals, the House Republicans wanted to cut off schools and medical services for immigrants and their children as well as impose duties on local law enforcement and other government agencies to verify citizenship or residency status of the individuals the come into contact with.
More from the Indy Channel.
Update Niki Kelly has more on the brouhaha in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Since the House Republicans pulled their stunt with the minority committee report, the House Democrats contrived to take the text of Sen. Delph’s bill, as it passed out of the House Committee, and amend it into SB 345 having to do with unemployment contributions. The House Republicans complained that the new home had nothing to do with immigration, but they miss the point. Both have to do with employee-employer relations. The House Republicans probably didn’t like that sort of frame since they had the intent of expanding the Senate Bill beyond the employment context. And, incidentally, the legislator who offered the minority report was Rep. Eric Turner, the legislator who proposed to amend the gay marriage proposal into the tax cap proposal.
Rep. Trent Van Haaften, D-Mount Vernon, who chaired the committee that heard the original bill, pointed out that Turner had the opportunity to offer the changes he wanted during the committee process and didnâ€™t.
Apparently the House Ways & Means Committee made some big changes to pieces of the tax restructuring plan going through the Indiana General Assembly. Bill Ruthhart has the story for the Indianapolis Star. The biggest change was to SJR 1 which would amend the Indiana Constitution and engrave property tax caps into our founding document. Before the committee changes, the plan was to cap property taxes at 1% of the assessed value for owner occupied residential properties, 2% for other residential properties, and 3% for business property. Under the changes recommended in the Ways & Means Committee, the cap for owner occupied properties would be 1% of the household’s annual income.
Rep. Crawford, chair of the committee, said that basing the cap on income rather than on assessed value of the property was fair because of the increase in the sales tax which is supposed to pay for all of these property tax reductions. Sales taxes will fall disproportionately on the poor and so, the argument goes, the strongest property tax protections should be provided to homeowners with the lowest household income.
We’re in uncharted waters here. I don’t know that anyone has numbers that can project how this affects taxpayers or how this affects revenues. I don’t see it ultimately passing the General Assembly — at least not this year — because there are a lot of variables nobody can put numbers to. However, I think it does help to underscore that the property tax restructuring under consideration *shifts* taxes from property tax payers to sales tax payers. Whether there is an overall reduction in taxes is much less certain. And a sales tax has the potential to be a more regressive tax than a property tax. I seem to recall that Gov. Daniels is on record as opposing a graduated income tax as a means of replacing lost property tax revenues.
Niki Kelly, writing for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, has the story as well. Her article has a variety of critiques:
Rep. Eric Turner, R-Gas City, said that because his wife is a stay-at-home mom with no income he would just put his house in her name and avoid property taxes altogether.
And Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, pointed out two identical houses sitting side-by-side could have vastly different tax bills based solely on the income of the owners.
Rep. Leonard’s point doesn’t really carry much water: First, it’s always possible for two families, living side by side, to have wildly different tax burdens. Second, the whole point of this property tax exercise is to cap properties at different levels — under the Republicans’ preferred plan, a rental property sitting next to a owner-occupied property could be taxed twice as much.
Rep. Turner is pretty much just showing us he’s a tax dodge.
None of which suggests any particular strength to the amended version; just the speciousness of Leonard and Turner’s arguments.
Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the Wisconsin and Hawaii primaries. Hawaii wasn’t really on anyone’s radar and Obama was expected to win there without any real challenge. Wisconsin, however, was significant. Not only did Obama win, he won big. With 99% of the precincts reporting, Obama took 58% of the vote compared to Clinton’s 41% of the vote.
We’ll see what happens, but Ohio and Texas are starting to look less like firewalls for Clinton and more like last stands. I wouldn’t expect her to give up quietly though. Unfortunately, given who her advisers are, I expect the next couple of weeks to be a parade of negativity coming out of the Clinton camp.
The Senate passed HB 1107 with respect to certain education matters by a vote of 29 to 17. It came over from the House as a bill about ensuring “cultural competency” in teachers. The Senate added requirements that high school health classes include information about fetal development.
The anti-choice/pro-life people have my sensibilities on a hair trigger whenever I see “fetal” anything in legislation, but I don’t find anything objectionable in the proposed requirement — other than my general dislike for the General Assembly getting into the weeds of dictating particular school curricula.
The instruction must include:
(1) the result of human sperm and egg convergence;
(2) the resulting development of human conception;
(3) photographic images portraying each state of uterine fetal development; and
(4) descriptions of human fetal development.
I guess the pictures are supposed to make girls feel too guilty to get an abortion, but it looks like they’re allowing schools to teach pretty straight forward science here, so it seems more or less kosher to me.
The cultural competency basically requires the Department of Education to prepare standards in training teachers to “successfully teach in a manner that serves the diverse needs of all students.” “The standards must provide for multicultural courses and culturally responsive methods that assist individuals in developing cultural competency.” Seems like a big, vague task chock full of jargon.
“Cultural competency” means a system of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that enables teachers to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. The term includes the use of knowledge concerning individuals and groups to develop specific standards, policies, practices, and attitudes to be used in appropriate cultural settings to increase students’ educational performance.
When I used to attend committee hearings for the legislature, I noticed a huge difference between the testimony of hard science types and engineers versus social science types and teachers. The engineers would stand up, tell you the facts as they understood them, and sit down. The teachers and social scientists would stand up, spend 10 minutes telling you about their credentials, mention a few facts, and then throw out some jargon that ostensibly had something to do with the facts they had just mentioned. I never could quite tell what information was simply beyond my range of knowledge due to the complexity of the subject and what was simply bullshit. To some degree, I suspect that was the point.