The State balances the budget on the backs of local government and then state politicians rush to get out front to offer tax refunds based on the “surplus.”
Under Daniels’ plan, outlined Tuesday, anyone who filed a state income tax return would receive a credit on the following year’s return if state revenues came in above a predetermined level.
The Republican governor suggested that level should be 10 percent of the money needed for the next budget year. Any credits, which would be subject to the legislature’s approval each year, also would depend on whether enough money was being preserved to protect the state in case of a downturn.
The State’s current fiscal health is directly related to the distress in which local governments currently find themselves.
Jill Long Thompson doesn’t think Daniels goes far enough.
She has proposed returning the state’s current surplus to taxpayers by suspending the state sales tax on gasoline.
“I’m glad that he finally responded to my repeated calls for tax relief for Hoosiers,” Long Thompson said. “But I think Hoosier families in many communities are economically stretched now, and the governor has the authority to suspend collecting the Indiana state sales tax on gasoline, and that would give immediate relief.”
Long Thompson said that when she was in Washington, she never voted for legislation that included a new tax or a tax increase. Daniels, she said, has sought multiple tax increases in his four years as governor.
This exchange makes me pessimistic that Long Thompson will close the gap to overtake Daniels at the poll. She apparently is not questioning the manner in which the “surplus” was generated. Under Governor Daniels, the state has been rather heavy handed in its interactions with local government. Long Thompson does not appear to be tapping into this reservoir of ill-will. Instead, she seems to be trying to out “tax cut” the Republicans, criticizing Daniels for his, frankly, good ideas to impose a temporary tax on those with incomes greater than $100,000 and cigarette taxes devoted to health programs.
Lower taxes are good, but good government programs often bring greater value than those tax dollars paid in. For example, the portion of my tax dollars attributable to building and maintaining roads are far more valuable to me in the form of roads than they would be in the form of a few extra bucks in my pocket and no roads. Same goes for the drainage systems that take water away from my property, the courts that allow me to enforce my contracts, etc. etc.
I just think that Long Thompson is embracing Republican electoral frames which will make it very hard for her to beat Daniels.