As legislative session opens, municipal leaders wonder what's in store
Some municipal leaders watched Monday’s opening of the 2013 Indiana General Assembly session with a wary eye – wondering how taxation rules will affect local government and individual Hoosiers alike.
The new leader of the House Ways and Means Committee Monday didn’t wholly endorse Governor Mike Pence’s plan to lower income taxes Monday.
When asked about the biggest plank in the platform which led Mike Pence to be elected governor – an across-the-board 10% income tax cut – Crawfordsville Representative Tim Brown wavered.
“I think if you look at just strictly what the numbers in the forecast look like, we could probably craft a budget that did it,” Brown said. “But is that prudent and is that what we should do? I think that’s the debate we will have.”
Taxes are on the minds of local leaders, too – many of whom say they want more local taxing authority to help offset shrinking city budgets.
Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan says even though the state has a surplus, local officials must be careful how they ask lawmakers to dip into it on behalf of their cities.
“Quite honestly, legislators don’t care about the bottom line of their local governments as much as they do the bottom line of the state’s budget – that’s just the nature of the game,” Kruzan said. “They do care about what the priorities are back home and if they’re hearing specific needs that can be met through giving authority at the local level to raise moneys, I think they’re more receptive.”
Leaders around the state have pledged to back a push from the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns to get broader taxing authority for Hamilton County cities as they work to expand public transportation – a possible first step to greater taxing power for all Indiana municipalities.