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[r23] Friend Report: Session concludes, Hoosiers receive historic tax cut
Start Date: 5/1/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 5/1/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description
Session concludes, Hoosiers receive historic tax cut

The legislative session ended early Saturday, April 27, at about 1:30 a.m. Indiana statute calls for an April 29 adjournment but because of the weekend, legislators were in agreement that an early end to the session made sense and would save a few dollars of per diem. Working late on Friday prevented a return on Monday for one day.

My point in talking about a deadline is this: a hard deadline can produce real results for proposed legislation. Just as in sports when the clock is ticking down to the end of the game, the Legislature has to finish work on bills if it wants them to pass and become law. Indiana has a part-time Legislature, which requires more time management in comparison to surrounding states that are year-round. They don’t really adjourn and affairs seem to drag on and on. Just compare their fiscal situation to Indiana, and the case is easily made that a deadline can be a really good thing for responsible state government.

Deliberations on our new state budget were successful, and a $30 billion product was passed with many favorable adjustments. Education received more funding. K-12 programs will receive 2 percent more funding the first year and an additional 1 percent in the second year. There are also adjustments to local schools in Senate Bill 517 that give some relief for the schools hurt by the caps and the circuit breakers. It is probably not perfect, but it does provide some help for many corporations.

Higher education also receives considerations that will increase their funding for programs and capital projects. A truly conservative principle is involved here as this budget actually pays cash for some capital projects. By paying for projects with cash and not bonding (borrowing), there is a tremendous savings for taxpayers because interest is not paid on a 20-30 year bond. The building is paid for when it is completed. It is a unique concept in this day and age, but it is a direct benefit of our strong fiscal situation. Jobs are created to build the projects and no interest has to be paid; that leaves more funds to do other state functions.

In addition to these important aspects of the budget, there will be multiple tax cuts; the largest tax cut package, when fully implemented, in state history at more than $650 million per year. The inheritance tax, or commonly referred to as the death tax, has been repealed. Income taxes will be reduced by 5 percent over the next 4 years. The financial institutions tax will be reduced to 6.5 percent, and the corporate income tax will continue to be phased down to 6.5 percent.

Senate Bill 373, the bill dealing with unauthorized photos or videos on farms or in factories did not pass. The controversy of this bill dealt with first amendment rights versus private property rights. The constitutional lawyers made their case, and the Legislature could not find the proper language to produce a bill that satisfied everyone. Classifying photos as a free speech issue has transformed this topic into a very volatile discussion. Recent occurrences in our national society have made agreement much more difficult to resolve. The issue will be back, and even more attorneys will weigh in with opinions and language they think is acceptable. Cell phones and the Internet have changed our situation dramatically.

I was able to pass House Resolution 107 that asks the Legislative Council to do a summer study of the Indiana trail system. There are multiple issues to discuss, including statewide trail maintenance and a funding source so these new assets can be properly maintained. There is no ongoing mechanism to provide for a suitable plan to care for trails.  It should not be the gas tax because motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trails. Other concerns are legal jurisdiction on the trails. Who is responsible for enforcement and who makes policy decisions? Situations arise regarding property lines and disputes over fencing and drainage. These topics deserve an intensive discussion with well-defined answers.

With the session now over, this job will continue to be one of constituent service and the various meetings that are necessary to keep up with ongoing issues. I will be available by my contact information and will do my best to work for everyone to answer questions or help with specific situations.

Thank you for your support and communications. I appreciate the contacts and will continue to write on a more random schedule. It’s your state government. Please stay involved!

More later,

Bill Friend
Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: 3172329831
Email: ngoodwin@iga.in.gov
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