Last minute deals mean early end to Indiana Legislature

By Rick Yencer

INDIANAPOLIS INDIANA (NEWS) - Hoosiers might want to talk to their state lawmakers after deals to reduce business personal property taxes and money for early childhood education are offered.

Thursday could be the day the Indiana House and Senate take final action on 2014 money and laws.

With Big 10 mens basketball in town Thursday, downtown hotel rooms are booked up and most lawmakers leave town on Thursday during the regular session.

Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, indicated Wednesday there was likely agreement on business taxes and early education that would come for a vote Thursday

And that includes giving local government the option of reduce personal property taxes on business and funding about five pilot programs for early education.

Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, thought Hoosiers were not getting enough out of state lawmakers after Republicans voted down Energizing Indiana program, and did not even consider expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

When it comes to business taxes, Errington said Indiana was already among the top states with a business friendly climate while near the bottom  when it comes to wages.

And the median income in Indiana also is low, especially in Muncie at under $26,000 for a family.

With Republican lawmakers still favoring utilities by eliminating utility paid incentive programs, and not even discussing health care for Hoosiers in need, Errington said more steps should be taken to improve education and the economy.

Sen. Tim Lanane, Senate minority leader from Anderson, agreed with that assessment, given that bills on  health care expansion, and raising the minimum wage did not even get hearings. 

And any reduction in business property taxes will see a shift to homes and farms since there has been no talk of replacing that revenue.

Lanane also believed the Senate should spend more money on infrastructure.

Even Gov, Mike Pence wanted lawmakers to spend $400 million on interstates and highways. That number was cut in half and now lawmakers are talking about a grant program for local government to apply for extra road money.

Mayor Dennis Tyler, a former lawmaker, said local communities definitely needed extra money to fix roads and streets after the Great Winter of 14.

Tyler, like other mayors, is reluctant to reduce business property taxes at the expense of homeownwers. Muncie continues with a good cash balance of over $8 million, but Delaware County is broke and living on borrowed money. 

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