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.
And can the Governor lawfully spend money that hasn’t been appropriated by the House? I question whether Senator Kenley can just say to the Gov, “Here’s your ATM card. Withdraw whatever you think is politically expedient.”
I don’t disagree with you, but I know one legislator disagrees:
Glad I don’t live in Bill Crawford’s district.
Maybe it’s a clever ruse on somebody’s part to get the Governor embroiled in a situation where he’s spending money that hasn’t been properly appropriated. Probably I’m over-thinking the matter.
As for Crawford’s “check is in the mail” statement, it seems like citizen concerns about getting a check should be beside the point right now. Their concerns should have been a driving factor in adopting the legislation. But now, I thought the legislation was drafted such that no refunds could issue until the gambling licenses were sold. Where is the discretion coming from?
The legislation was pretty dense, so it’s entirely possible I misunderstand what’s in there. But, just hypothetically, if the race tracks decided not to purchase the slot licenses, doesn’t that mean no property tax relief?
Doug, that was my understanding too.
I’m with Doug as far as not seeing the need for a special session. Reading the proposed GOP plan that just came out doesn’t make me feel any better either. All band-aids, nothing substantial.
The fact that both parties now think the surplus should be raided for property tax relief reminds me of why I don’t belong to either party, and of why the state’s in this situation in the first place. Their idea of long-term thinking is worrying about dinner tonight instead of lunch in an hour.
Prior to 2007:
State: Ok, counties, you must do (and pay for) these 5 things
Counties: But, but, that will cost us 10 pennies
State: Ok, not totally fair for your taxpapers, how about we kick in 5 pennies – we’ll call it an exemption
Cut to 2007
State: oh, hey, we don’t have very much money. We’re only going to kick in 2 pennies this year.
Counties: but, but… we still have to do those 5 things, right? And they still cost us 10 pennies.
State: Whoo hoo, look at us… we have an extra 3 pennies! Aren’t we being smart with taxpaper money!!
Taxpayers: Uh, wait a second…
State: What? You taxpapers need to talk to your counties about how much money they’re spending! (We’re running a surplus, we’re running a surplus!)
Counties: Uh, wait a second…
I seem to only be able to type “taxpaper” rather than “taxpayer” (must be Freudian).