The legislative study committee reviewing the property tax situation received some advice from Gov. Daniels yesterday. Ryan Kitchell, director of the governor’s Office of Management and Budget pushed the Governor’s plan to target rebates at those whose property taxes exceed 1.1% of their property’s assessed value.
As a policy matter, that makes as much sense as anything else, I guess. But, something is really wrong when we’re still debating this in between sessions. The legislature is responsible for making tax policy. If they gave the Governor the discretion to dole out the rebate checks willy-nilly, that was irresponsible. If they didn’t give him the authority, then why even have this discussion? The legislature chose its tax policy earlier this year. Stick with it until the next session and revise it then, if necessary. I don’t see any unforeseen emergency here. What I see is certain lawmakers getting nervous as the chickens come home to roost on policies they chose.
In my mind, special sessions are appropriate for resolving unfinished business (say, passing a budget when no agreement was reached during regular sessions) or for addressing situations that could not be foreseen during the regular session. They are not appropriate just so lawmakers can have a chance to change their minds. “No take backs” as we used to say when I was a kid. Making laws fluid – changeable at any time creates uncertainty. I don’t think lawmakers want to set a precedent to the effect that laws can be revisited at any time of the year. I think the short term property tax pain is preferable to the long term uncertainty of an ever-changing law book.