The first committee meeting of the 2010 session – held more than a month before the General Assembly is set to reconvene – brought more questions than answers on two of the big issues facing lawmakers. The Senate Tax and Fiscal Committee met Dec. 1 and heard little testimony about a proposal (SB 23) to delay of 2009-passed unemployment insurance reform and a constitutional amendment (SJR 1) for the already enacted 1-2-3% property tax caps. A quorum was not present for the meeting, so no other action was taken.
Senate Democrat Tim Skinner (Terre Haute) expressed his concerns over unintended consequences of the property tax caps, including harmful cuts to Indiana schools. As covered in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette:
Libby Cierzniak, a lobbyist for Indianapolis Public Schools, pointed out that schools are allowed to use property tax revenue from the capital levy to cover utility costs and heating.
“You can’t tell me that keeping the lights on and heating the schools are not core educational costs,” she said.
Cierzniak also said that several poorer districts in the state will see devastating cuts.
Sen. Tim Skinner, D-Terre Haute, said it is unwise to rush into amending the state constitution without first seeing the practical effects and unintended consequences.
“But here we are rushing to make a decision that has more personally to do with politics than it does policy,” Skinner said.
“We are going to suffer as a result of this. It’s wise to let this situation play out.”
The committee is scheduled to meet again on Dec. 8 at 1:00 p.m.