February 4, 2014

 

ISTA is pleased to announce that it has joined forces with the newly-formed coalition campaign “Replace Don’t Erase”. The campaign is an effort to preserve local government funding (including public school funding) at a level that will continue to provide Hoosiers with the quality of life they expect and deserve and public school students with the programs they need to achieve.

 

The Indiana Association of Cities and Towns convened many like-minded groups, constituencies, and interests to share information, partner, and work together to lobby Indiana’s legislature as it considers bills requested by Governor Pence through his 2014 ‘Legislative Roadmap’, namely aimed to eliminate Indiana’s business personal property tax. 

 

If fully eliminated, the loss to governmental entities equals about $1 billion.  Legislators in both chambers have crafted their own version of this idea (SB 1 from the Senate and HB 1001 from the House) and both bills have survived the first half of the session. 

 

Neither bill includes identification of replacement revenue.  HB 1001 is billed as a county “local option” and SB 1 is being billed as “exempting just small businesses.”  HB 1001 is not a true local option and SB 1 is a slippery slope.  

 

The second half of the 2014 session begins anew Monday, February 10.

 

Growing Indiana’s economy is about more than a checklist of business taxes. The elimination of business taxes shifts the burden onto workers and homeowners. 

 

Indiana ranks in the top ten in “business friendliness” but ranks 39th in “quality of life.” It would appear as though this effort is neither data-driven nor the right priority and certainly not defensible without the inclusion of sustainable replacement funds. 

 

Not surprisingly, the coalition member groups represent a broad base of providers of governmental services that are directly tied to quality of life issues in any state—schools, public safety, roads, parks and recreation, public libraries, etc…

 

Please add these bills (SB 1 and HB 1001) to your radar screen and contact your state senator and representative—asking that they oppose these bills as they stand. 

 

A short session is certainly not the time to set the stage for further erosion of resources that may be available to public schools and other public needs.  This is unfair to the many priorities that must wait for a long (budget-writing) session.  These discussions should be handled together and not unfairly leveraged against one another.