Indiana property tax will be phased out in 10-15 years if State Rep. Andy Thomas (R-Brazil) has his way.
Even though his bill was killed in the House Ways and Means Committee during this short session, he believes the idea will pick up momentum.
"I predict at least one candidate for governor, Mitch Daniels, will support the idea," Thomas said during Saturday's cracker barrel political discussion at the Clay County YMCA in Brazil. "I believe it's time to end the property tax in Indiana over the next 10-15 years."
Thomas asked for a show of hands to indicate if local property taxes went up, down or stayed about the same. A few less than half the approximately 70 people in attendance indicated their property taxes went up or down with perhaps 10 indicating their property tax bill had not changed since reassessment.
The property tax issue dominated about half the short session this year, Thomas said.
He believes it is unfair and should be replaced by other forms of taxation. He also thinks a provisional tax bill should have been sent out last year for at least as much as property owners paid the previous year.
In response to a question from the audience, Thomas said property taxes may increase a minimal amount due to legislation passed this year.
That change is due in part to the decision to phase out the state inventory tax, putting about $400,000 of the burden on Clay County property owners, according to one estimate given at the meeting.
"That's another reason to end the property tax," Thomas said.
Thomas also commented on other issues facing the state:
- Prescription drug costs
Rep. Clyde Kersey has introduced a bill that would lower prescription drug costs for government employees, Thomas said. By buying in bulk, those employees would save money.
Thomas acknowledged that would not help everyone, but "it's a start".
- Same sex marriage
"That wasn't an issue when the session started, but it turned into one," Thomas said.
Due to marriage laws in Massachusetts and California, same sex marriage is quickly becoming a nationwide issue. Thomas believes it will next surface in Chicago and Indiana won't be far behind.
A 1997 Indiana statute made marriage legal only between a man and a woman, but both Thomas and Sen. John Waterman expressed concern the law may be overturned.
A gay couple in Marion County has appealed and the law is under review in the Indiana Court of Appeals.
"That's why you've seen House Republicans so passionate about this," Thomas said.
Republicans have walked off the floor of the House when they were not allowed to speak on the subject and then returned later. "But, we're not holding up the State's business," Thomas said. "I feel strongly we need a constitutional amendment (affirming marriage only between a man and a woman) on the November ballot."
- Gas tax revenue distribution
Clay County is just one of many rural Indiana counties missing out on "a lot of money to build roads" becuase the state formula does not include pick up trucks.
Thomas said amendments to include pickup trucks has been blocked by legislators in predominantly urban districts.