State Rep. Vern Tincher (D-Riley) compared the amendment to eliminate property taxes by 2009 to a similar move by a neighboring state some years ago.
"It really depends on what the (Indiana) senate does," Tincher told The Brazil Times on Thursday morning. "There was no discussion of it in the House Ways and Means Committee. Michigan did the same thing."
If property taxes are eliminated, state revenues will have to be made up through other taxes, Tincher said.
"Property tax relief and Major Moves are two of the most critical issues before the 2006 Indiana General Assembly," Tincher said in his statehouse report dated Jan. 20. "House Bill 1001 outlines a series of tax breaks for property owners in response to a biennial state budget that raised those property taxes. House Bill 1008 would enable the state to lease the Indiana Toll Road to private investors in order to pay for a series of major road and bridge projects.
"Initiatives of this scope involve billions of dollars of your money. In order to make sure that money is being well-spent, it is important to look at these proposals completely and find out whether your best interests are protected.
"I worry that both of these measures are being rushed through the legislative process without giving them the full attention they deserve. Questions need to be asked about both bills, so let me discuss some of my concerns.
"House Bill 1001 does offer some property tax relief, but that still will not make up for the increases in local property taxes that came as a result of the biennial state budget that was approved in 2005.
"The 2005-06 budget caps the amount of state-funded property tax relief, a move that has shifted close to $1 billion in property taxes onto the backs of local taxpayers. The same budget also limited state support for public education, forcing school corporations to raise local taxes, cut programs or lay off teachers and staff.
"The breaks contained in House Bill 1001 will not prevent your property tax bills from going up this year. There also are questions how these new breaks will be financed. It could end up socking you again."
House Bill 1001 would provide a 3 percent cap on rate increases on residential property, a limit that does not include levies for debt service and local schools, Tincher wrote.
"It also would freeze local tax levies for child welfare services, a move that begins the process of having those services funded entirely at the state level. Senior citizens would receive deferrals if they receive excessive property tax increases.
"All of these are admirable goals, but I wonder how we will pay for them. Some supporters want to use money from the state's tax amnesty program to pay the bill, estimated at around $150 million. The problem with that plan is that if there is no other way to pay for these breaks, then local taxpayers again will be forced to foot the bill."
Major Moves drew statewide attention when Gov. Mitch Daniels stated his intention to lease I-80 to a private firm that will collect road tolls in exchange for paying a lease.
The Brazil Times tried but could not reach State Rep. Andy Thomas (R-Brazil) for comment on the property tax amendment before press time on Thursday.