Congratulations to Team Hammond, all the citizens of Indiana, and especially to George Janiec and Jim Premeske. Team Hammond's spokesmen departed the region at 4:00 A.M. on Monday, December 7th, braving an interstate covered with black ice, to testify in Indy on behalf of the citizens concerning the importance of putting a Constitutional Amendment to a referendum vote in November of 2010.
Although they were outnumbered in testimony, and were facing a House Committee dominated by Democrats, some quite hostile. They intrepidly made their points on the gift of property tax caps (1,2,3 %) which the General Assembly had approved none too soon.
The issue boiled down to: why now? Both the House and Senate membership changes biennially: it takes 26 Senators, 51 Representatives and most importantly a sympathetic Governor to bring change to Indiana. In the absence of a Constitutional Amendment complicating a return to Indiana's current out of control government the House Ways and Means Committee learned the necessity of expediency. Team Hammond pointed out the national average property tax rate is .96%; the highest ten counties in the U.S. average less than 3.5%, with median home values approximating Hammond's $100,000. Meanwhile in Indiana, Hammond taxpayers paid a rate of 5.66%, while Gary was over 9%. Examples were cited on how the property tax caps provided discipline that was previously lacking, especially in Lake County! The ways and means vote was deferred until Dec 14th.
Because of the weather, there was no question that Team Hammond's spokemen would spend the night in Indy pending the Tuesday afternoon convening of the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee.
Team Hammond's Senate Committee testimony was similar to that at the House chamber. Premeske provided copies of the tables he cited to interested senators. The odds were still against us; and when Senator Lonnie Randolph (D-East Chicago) began a detailed cross-examination of Jim Premeske concerning the sacrifices endured by local government it drew every committee senators attention. Point after point Senator Randolph probed for a weak spot in Team Hammond's defense of the tax caps. Example after example was shot down as it was pointed out cutbacks had feasible alternatives which local administations bypassed. Jim's conclusion was that the citizens need not be penalized because they supported needed tax relief.
Finally a vote was taken with nine senators voting for sending SJR1 to the full Senate for a vote leading to a November referendum with three Democrats (including Senator Randolph) dissenting.
On Monday, December 14th the House Ways and Means Committee took its vote. The outcome was 21-3, with several Democrats crossing to vote with the Republicans.
With committees in both chambers agreeing to have their entire body vote on a people's referendum (vote) in November of 2010, Team Hammond is off to an excellent start for the new year. But the real battles are yet to come; Mayor McDermott and his ilk will be out in full force trying to preserve Waste, Fraud and Abuse. Anticipate they will multiply the efforts of their lobbyists against the citizens. It is now more imperative than ever to keep the pressure on our senators and representatives.
A big thank you goes to George and Jim for representing the welfare of Indiana's taxpayers.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Congratulations to Team Hammond, all the citizens of Indiana, and especially to George Janiec and Jim Premeske. Team Hammond's spokesmen departed the region at 4:00 A.M. on Monday, December 7th, braving an interstate covered with black ice, to testify in Indy on behalf of the citizens concerning the importance of putting a Constitutional Amendment to a referendum vote in November of 2010.
Posted by Team Hammond at Monday, December 14, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Joe Wszolek, an Indiana Certified Tax Representative, gave Part II of his property tax appeal presentation at the Team Hammond meeting on Tuesday night.
Form 133 He went over the reasons for a property tax appeal and what forms should be used for the two different types of appeals. Form 133 should be used to correct an error such as an exemption that has been eliminated. Form 130 should be used to challenge an assessed value on a property. Form 133 appeals can be filed all year long. Form 130 appeals have a 45 day deadline after Form 11, Form 113 or tax bills have gone out. The deadline for 2008 appeals has been extended to December 2, 2009.
Joe also covered grade ratings and how they affect your assessed value and your neighborhoods. He showed examples of different types of residential properties and their grade ratings. You can use your neighbors' grade ratings in your appeal if your grade rating is significantly different.
The property record card available at the assessor's office is the first step in gathering information for your appeal. Joe explained what information is contained in the property record card and why it is the foundation for your appeal.
In an appeal, the burden of proof is on the homeowner not the assessor. The homeowner must provide documentation and evidence in order to prove the assessment is not correct. You cannot just say my assessment is too high. You must provide evidence supporting your claim. This evidence can be a certified appraisal, sales disclosures, and assessed values of other homes similar to the homeowners. This information can be obtained from local real estate agents and the county assessor's webpage. The DLGF is also a valuable source of information for an appeal. If the homeowner is willing to do the groundwork himself, he should not have to spend alot of money trying to win the appeal.
Joe also covered the different steps in the appeal process. The assessor has 120 days to schedule an informal hearing on an appeal. If that time passes, the homeowner can go to the PTABOA (Propety Tax Assessment Board of Appeals) and request a hearing. The hearing must be held within 180 within the filing of the appeal. If the homeowner is not satisfied with the ruling of the PTABOA, the next step is the Indiana Board of Tax Review in Indianapolis followed by the Indiana Tax Court.
The deadline for 2008 tax appeals is December 2, 2009. If the deadline is missed, the homeowner will have to wait until 2010 to file a 2009 appeal. Property tax bills came out on September 29 and the 45 day deadline has passed; however, the county assessor has extended the deadline until December 2, 2009. Homeowners must include a copy of the deadline extension with their appeal should their appeal continue on to the Indiana Board of Tax Review.
Any homeowner wishing to use sales disclosures for their 2008 appeal must use disclosures from the time period January 1, 2006 through December 31, 2007. Disclosures from the current year 2009 are not valid for a 2008 appeal.
Beginning in 2010, the burden of proof will be on the assessor if an assessed value of a property goes up more than 5%.
Joe cautioned that the results of an appeal are not always in favor of the homeowner. If an appeal is within 10% of the assessed value either way, the assessor is not obligated to make a correction. The assessed value within that 10% frame is considered correct.
Currently, homeowners are having to appeal their assessments every year. Joe said he and George Janiec are working to get a law passed that would make the new assessments won in an appeal permanent, and homeowners would no longer have to appeal every year.
The presentation ended with Joe answering questions from the audience.
Posted by Team Hammond at Thursday, November 19, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
The next Team Hammond general meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 17, 2009 at the Woodmar United Methodist Church, 7320 Northcote Avenue. Meet n' Greet will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the general meeting to follow at 7:00 p.m.
Our guest speaker for the evening will be Joe Wszolek, who will continue his presentation on Property Tax Appeals. Joe will specifically focus on the criteria for filing a property tax appeal and the procedure for filing an appeal. Joe is an Indiana Certified Residential Appraiser, an Indiana Certified Level II Assessor-Appraiser and an Indiana Certified Tax Representative (Real Property Assessment Appeal).
If you believe the assessment on your residence is not correct and would like to know how to go about fixing it, come to the Team Hammond meeting this Tuesday night. Find out if you have a legitimate concern and learn how to navigate your way through the appeal process. Deadline for 2008 appeals is December 4, 2009; time is running out!
For more information, contact George Janiec at (219) 678-6761.
Posted by Team Hammond at Sunday, November 15, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Learn from an experienced professional
- How the property tax process works
- What the parts of a property tax bill mean
- How assessed values are set
- When it makes sense to appeal your assessment
- How to tell if your property description is correct
- How to tell if your assessment is logical and reasonable
- How an assessed value can be successfully appealed
Key Speaker will be Joe Wszolek, President, Joseph Wszolek & Associates, Inc., Indiana Certified Residential Appraiser, Indiana Certified Level II Assessor-Appraiser, Indiana Certified Tax Representative (Real Property Assessment Appeal)
Bring your tax bill and record card (Property description) for help in appealing assessments. Appeal forms and info on how to appeal an assessment will be available.
DATE: Thursday, October 29
TIME: 6-9 PM
PLACE: Woodmar United Methodist Church, 7320 Northcote (Corner of Northcote and Southwestern)
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The next Team Hammond Taxpayers' Group meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at the Woodmar United Methodist Church, 7320 Northcote Avenue. Meet and greet will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the general meeting to follow at 7:00 p.m.
On the agenda is the new Hammond high school construction project. Key speaker will be Dr. Walter Watkins, superintendent of the Hammond school system. School board trustees will also attend and comment on the project.
Team Hammond meetings are open to the public.
Posted by Team Hammond at Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
The next Team Hammond meeting will be on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at the Woodmar United Methodist Church, 7320 Northcote Avenue. Meet n' greet will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the general meeting to follow at 7:00 p.m.
Guest speaker for the evening will be Dan Dernulc of the Little Calumet River Basin Commission. He will speak on the Little Calumet River flood control project and its current status.
Anyone residing in Lake County is invited to attend and bring your questions about the project. Feel free to invite your friends and neighbors especially those who have been impacted by the Little Cal flooding.
Posted by Team Hammond at Thursday, September 17, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Lake County Council President Larry Blanchard (R-Crown Point) will be the featured guest speaker at the next Team Hammond Taxpayers' Group meeting on Tuesday, June 30, 2009 at the Woodmar United Methodist Church, 7320 Northcote Avenue in Hammond. Meet and greet will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the general meeting to follow at 7:00 p.m.
County Council President Blanchard will speak on all issues related to the county: upcoming budget talks, cost cutting, proposed food and beverage tax and county option income tax. The meeting will be an open discussion, and Mr. Blanchard will answer questions from the floor.
Team Hammond meetings are open to everyone who is interested in good government and property tax reform. You do not have to be a Hammond resident to attend. Bring a friend or a neighbor to the meeting and become an informed citizen on the workings of county government.
Posted by Team Hammond at Saturday, June 27, 2009
The next state budget passed by the Indiana General Assembly will be Taxpayer Friendly if it (1) provides sufficient resources for good government AND (2) protects Hoosier working families from state and local tax increases.
Two starkly different state budgets have been proposed in the current special session of the General Assembly - a two-year budget by the Indiana Senate under the leadership of President Protempore David Long that follows the guidelines of Governor Mitch Daniels, and one-year budget by the Indiana House as directed by Speaker B. Patrick Bauer. A spreadsheet analysis of each budget can be found online at http://www.finplaneducation.net/senatehouse_ssb_0911.htm.
Providing sufficient resources for good government is difficult during these challenging economic times - the nation's longest recession since the Great Depression. To help replace declining revenues, both the Senate and House budgets use (or intend to use) about $2.7 billion of federal stimulus funds for various education, infrastructure, Medicaid, and transportation spending initiatives. The use of these federal stimulus dollars is acceptable in the present uncertain economic environment IF tax increases do not become necessary to support recurring expenses that will now be covered by the non-recurring federal stimulus funds.
The Watchdog Indiana rule-of-thumb is that a tax increase in a subsequent budget can be avoided if all the state’s reserve funds on June 30 of the last budget year total at least 50 percent more than any structural deficit. A structural deficit is created when recurring budget spending is supported by non-recurring revenues - when appropriations that repeat year-after-year are not fully supported by current revenues, but rely on non-recurring revenues such as federal stimulus funds and reserve funds.
The House budget is Taxpayer UNfriendly because on June 30, 2010, the alarmingly high structural deficit of $1.3797 billion is fully half a billion dollars more than the state's total reserves of $877.8 million. There is little chance that revenue collections in the 2011 fiscal year will recover sufficiently to cover the structural deficit. Even though there will be an additional $289.2 million in Medicaid federal stimulus funds available for the 2011 fiscal year, a House budget structural deficit that is half a billion dollars more than the state's reserves WILL result in a 2011 tax increase.
The Senate budget is much more Taxpayer Friendly than the House Budget because on June 30, 2011, the Senate budget has a reserve funds balance of $1.0036 billion, which is 36 percent MORE than the structural deficit of $740.3 million. If revenue collections from current tax sources do not increase in line with historical levels, the state's reserves together with spending discretion by the Governor can be used to avoid a tax increase after 2011.
The K-12 education provisions in the Senate budget are Taxpayer Friendly. The Senate budget provides a spending increase for every student, and those school districts with increasing enrollments will get more state money while school districts with declining numbers of students will receive less state funding. Current law phases out per student state funding for school districts with declining enrollments over a five-year period, and phases in over five years the per student funding for school districts with increasing enrollments. Governor Daniels proposed that the five-year per student phase-outs and phase-ins be eliminated. Because some school expenses continue in school districts with declining enrollments, the Senate budget properly provides a compromise three-year period of per student phase-outs and phase-ins.
The K-12 education provisions in the House budget are Taxpayer UNfriendly. The House budget unwisely gives every school district more state funding, even those school districts with declining enrollments. The House budget reflects a philosophy that it is improper for K-12 teachers to protect their jobs by foregoing pay increases during this historic economic recession. Other government employees have had their pay frozen at a time when so many Hoosiers are experiencing income reductions and job losses. The average K-12 teacher in Indiana has a $49,569 salary with good benefits, while the median income for all the members of a Hoosier working family is $47,074. Indiana has the seventh highest teacher salaries in the nation when adjusted for cost of living. Teachers will hardly suffer if they miss one pay increase to help protect the funding of their K-12 school districts.
The Senate budget is also Taxpayer Friendly because it covers both the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years. A two-year budget provides the fiscal discipline needed to help protect Hoosier working families from the unneeded tax increases that single-interest lobbyists would demand each year if one-year budgets were unwisely adopted.
The House budget is Taxpayer UNfriendly because it covers the 2010 fiscal year only.
Some additional noteworthy Taxpayer Friendly and Taxpayer UNfriendly provisions in the Senate and House budgets are listed below (under my name). It must be noted that the long list of Taxpayer UNfriendly provisions in the House budget favors tax spenders and developers at the expense of those who pay taxes.
The same Bauer Obstruction Team that is blocking passage of the constitutional property tax caps in Senate Joint Resolution 1 is trying to use the House budget to set up a tax increase on Hoosier working families during the midst of a prolonged recession.
The bottom line is that a special session YES vote for the Senate budget is Taxpayer Friendly, while a special session NO vote against the Senate budget is Taxpayer UNfriendly.
Please ACT NOW and let your State Senator and State Representative know that you expect them to vote for the Taxpayer Friendly Senate budget! Contact information for your State Senator and State Representative public servants can be found at http://www.finplaneducation.net/general_assembly_ratings.htm.
Watchdog Indiana calls on Senator Long to improve the Senate budget further by reducing the use of the Tuition Reserve Fund in the 2010 fiscal year from $305 million to $231 million and in the 2011 fiscal year from $305 million to $262 million. Taking this action, together with eliminating the $74 million transfer from the General Fund to the Tuition Reserve Fund in the 2010 fiscal year and reducing K-12 spending by $43 million in the 2011 fiscal year, will enable the state’s reserve funds of $1.0466 billion on June 30, 2011, to be a Taxpayer Friendly 50 percent more than the structural deficit of $697.3 million. If the Bauer Obstruction Team wants the use of the Tuition Reserve Fund returned to $305 million in both the 2010 and 2011 fiscal years, insist that they allow a vote in the House on the Taxpayer Friendly constitutional property tax caps in Senate Joint Resolution 1.
From Aaron Smith at Watchdog Indiana
Posted by Team Hammond at Saturday, June 27, 2009
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The next Team Hammond general meeting will be on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at the Woodmar United Methodist Church, 7320 Northcote Avenue in Woodmar. Meet and greet begins at 6:30 p.m. with the general meeting to follow at 7:00 p.m.
Guest speaker for the evening will be State Senator Sue Landske (District 6). Senator Landske will speak on topics pertaining to state government including legislation, property taxes, and the state budget. The evening's format will be an open discussion, and Senator Landske will answer questions from the audience.
Bring a friend or neighbor to the meeting, and most of all, bring questions to ask Senator Landske.
Posted by Team Hammond at Thursday, May 21, 2009
Sunday, April 26, 2009
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
INDIANAPOLIS - There sat the serene House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer at his desk before the Statehouse press corps last Thursday and a Mitch Daniels bobble head doll. Bauer tapped it and Gov. Daniels’ plaster head bobbed up and down. “The governor is here with us and he agrees with me almost all the time,” the Speaker said as laughter filled his small office.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Daniels and Bauer are worlds apart when it comes to how Indiana should be governed.
It feeds into the question of who the most powerful person in the Statehouse really is: a constitutionally weak governor seeking to radically rebuild a backwater state, or a powerful Speaker who is the bulwark for an anemic status quo, and who is motivated only by the maintenance of his own elevated political station?
When the deal-making reaches true intensity next week, will Bauer, the stasist defender whose caucus has made a mockery of just about every progressive piece of legislation that has passed through its doors, win this battle and lose the war? For Daniels, who entered this session off a landslide victory and leaves it with near 70 percent approval, his legacy is at stake. His governorship will not be deemed successful unless he can achieve profound government and education restructuring.
The backdrop to this is the potential General Motors and Chrysler bankruptcies and liquidations, coupled with a steel industry collapse, whose production is the lowest since the Great Depression. There have also been two township trustee criminal convictions this past week.
Here are the key issues that must be determined by April 29:
The budget: This is the governor’s top priority and at this writing, he is looking at a stinker. It is loaded with Obama stimulus funds he warned Bauer and Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley not to use. Daniels wants a two-year budget that is truly balanced. Bauer wants a one-year budget given the economic crisis, but the governor has no stomach for dealing with it again next year.
State revenue forecasters predict Indiana will take in $690 million less over the next two years than last December’s estimate. That doesn’t include a Chrysler liquidation that could spread to suppliers, creating a belt of Indiana counties in Northern Indiana facing jobless rates between 15 and 20 percent. A question with no answer is what happens to those numbers with an automotive/steel collapse? Kenley’s foundation is an 8 percent budget cut plus using $2 billion in federal stimulus funds to increase education spending between 1 and 2 percent.
Unemployment Insurance: This is the issue in HB1379 most likely to create the need for a special session. A House Democrat plan put forth on Monday would saddle Hoosier employers with $1 billion to fix the shortfall, compared to the $328 million in the Senate bill, which would include some cuts to beneficiaries. This is one of those issues that got kicked down the road and now a solution must be found in crisis.
Asked how many Hoosier companies are teetering financially, Indiana Manufacturers Association President Pat Kiely answered, “There is no data available to determine how many Indiana manufacturers are on the brink, but we do know anyone related to autos, RVs and housing are in the worst positions.”
A look at Department of Workforce Development notices as of Wednesday reveal 5,527 jobs that will be lost between now and the end of June, which wouldn’t include 6,000 Chrysler jobs and related suppliers. “Passing a $1 billion tax increase as called for in the House Democrat conference committee report is clearly insane and for bargaining purposes,” Kiely said.
“Probably the right question to ask is how many employees will have to lose their jobs in every sector to pay for the tax? Employees will be impacted more than companies in most cases, which makes this tactic hard to understand and even harder to understand is why we continue to play political games with a subject that needs repairs and not rhetoric with one week left,” Kiely noted.
There is persistent speculation that Bauer is angling to blow up the UI bill and let the Obama administration deal with it. How does the idea of Washington running this sensitive fund strike you?
Education: I once viewed this as a key 11th-hour bargaining chip. Daniels might get his balanced budget or some Kernan-Shepard reforms in exchange for more education funding. Our sense at this writing is that the jobs trust issue is overshadowing the issue of increased education funding. Democrats are concerned that poorer school districts are being shorted by the Republican budget.
Kernan-Shepard: The miscalculation may have been Bauer and Senate Minority Leader Vi Simpson’s decision to not choose even a few of the 27 Kernan-Shepard recommendations for passage. The complete dismissal of all Kernan-Shepard reforms sets up a dramatic political showdown for House races in 2010 that will almost certainly be played out in places like Kokomo, Indianapolis, Terre Haute, Rising Sun, Marion and Pendleton, some of which will be experiencing titanic job losses. Imagine a campaign featuring a direct contrast between Daniels and Bauer. It’s coming.
My prediction? Just as we saw during the severe recession of 1982, a special session is probably likely sometime this year once we finally understand the full implications of the auto and steel crisis.
The columnist is publisher of www.howeypolitics.com.
Posted by Team Hammond at Sunday, April 26, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
April 24, 2009
By John Byrne and Jon Seidel
Post-Tribune staff writers
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana's first land-based casino could take root in Gary near the Borman Expressway under an ambitious 11th-hour plan Northwest Indiana legislators announced Thursday that would pay for a new teaching hospital in the city and other major regional projects using tax money generated at the new gambling emporium.
Proposed amendments to House Bill 1607 would also give Gary unique authority to use money collected from the lease of the Gary-Chicago International Airport on infrastructure improvements and other projects throughout the city.
The bloated legislation also retains its original purpose, to allow creation of a four-county transportation district to govern rail and bus service in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties.
But the package took on the feel of a Gary stimulus package at a conference committee hearing Thursday, with local representatives pointing to the struggling city's two casino licenses and its airport as the best assets to leverage as it attempts to remain solvent in the short term and forge a successful future in the long-term.
The proposal is sure to face opposition from some legislators who will wonder why Gary deserves such special treatment in the waning hours of the legislative session.
The casino financing package would require the amounts of admission and wagering tax revenue collected at one of the Don Barden-owned casinos in Buffington Harbor be recorded as of May 15.
Whenever a new casino opened on the south side of the city near Interstate 80/94, any increase in those tax revenues above the May 15, 2009, levels would go to three local projects: a teaching hospital in Gary; the West Lake corridor of the South Shore commuter rail extension, from Munster to Lowell; and the Marquette Plan to clean up and develop the lakeshore.
Those are dollars that would normally go to the state general fund, making it potentially problematic to garner downstate support for the plan.
No public input.
And Rep. Cleo Duncan, R-Greensburg, worried about HB 1607 undergoing wholesale changes without the benefit of the public hearings bills usually receive in the House and Senate.
"It has not passed either chamber and we're down to the nitty-gritty," Duncan said.
Rep. Chet Dobis, D-Merrill-ville, urged Duncan to consider what it would mean to the state if Gary went bankrupt.
"We are trying to help ourselves with this plan," Dobis said. "There are negatives, I concur. But if you want to see negatives, wait till you see the bottom line at the (Distressed Unit Appeal) Board when it reaches its conclusion" on Gary's request for state aid.
Support from Mitch
Gov. Mitch Daniels said this week he would be open to granting Gary the state's first land-based casino.
"As somebody who came late to this party, I've never understood why they have insisted on clinging to the illusion that these casinos are water-based anyway," Daniels said. "So if this is something the City of Gary feels will be helpful to them, I'm certainly willing to look at it."
Then there's the question of who would pay for a new casino in Gary.
Thursday's amendment requires the owner of the license to spend at least $150 million on the facility, though Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, predicted it would cost much more than that to erect a large-scale casino on the expressway.
Barden has had well-publicized money problems lately, and Rogers speculated he might sell the license or seek partners to defray the cost.
Barden said Thursday he hadn't had a chance to see the proposal. He declined to comment on the particulars or whether he plans to sell one of his Gary casino licenses.
"I don't have any plans to do anything about anything at this juncture," Barden said.
Clay lauds plan
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay greeted Thursday's developments as a welcome piece of good news for the beleaguered city.
The casino could generate $240 million over the next decade, Clay said, and the casino-hospital project could create 5,000 jobs.
He praised lawmakers, including his sometime political antagonist, Rep. Charlie Brown, a longtime supporter of a four-year medical school and teaching hospital in Gary.
"For the last two years he has really been on the front lines of pushing and bringing people together for the four-year medical school," Clay said.
HB 1607 started as a far-reaching, controversial plan to create a one-of-its-kind four-county transportation district with taxing powers in northern Indiana.
The transportation language remains in HB 1607, though it, too, underwent significant changes at Thursday's meeting of a bipartisan House-Senate conference committee with less than a week remaining in the General Assembly session.
Rather than separate May 2010 referendums, Dobis proposed a single, regionwide ballot question in November 2010. If a majority of voters in the whole four-county area wanted to participate, all four counties would become members.
Mayors from Gary, Hammond, Valparaiso, Portage, and the four largest cities in LaPorte and St. Joseph counties would sit on the board, which would have the power to levy an income tax up to 0.25 percent in each county to mass transit capital projects and operations.
Daniels would still appoint the ninth member, from among elected officials in the four counties.
"The mayors in all four counties would be more the beneficiaries than the counties," Dobis said.
Contact John Byrne at 317-631-7400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Team Hammond at Friday, April 24, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The next Team Hammond Taxpayers' Group general meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at the Galaxy Hall, 6723 Kennedy Avenue in Hessville. Meet and greet will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the general meeting to follow at 7:00 p.m.
Items on the agenda include updates on the city and county council meetings and the 2009 Indiana General Assembly.
Posted by Team Hammond at Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
WOW!!! Way to be heard and seen, Freedom-Loving Hoosiers!!!!!
Although the local media would have us believe we only had around 2,000 attendees at the event (which would be correct if you were counting 2 hours before the event even started!), those trained in crowd control AND the IMPD estimated our rally had somewhere between 12,000 - 15,000 Peaceful Patriots!!!! In fact, the Capital Police remarked that they were amazed at how well behaved our crowd was!! AND, what's more, our volunteers expected to spend a few hours after the event, picking up trash and cleaning the area, BUT, there was hardly ANY evidence that 15,000 people were just there!! We Patriots sure know how to party AND not make a mess!!!
Richard and I want to thank each one of you who braved the crowds, the parking, the chilly temps AND rearranged your schedules to be a part of the rally to have our voices heard together! We really were the ROARING LION!! I know most of you did not have the vantage point that we had and could not see the crowd fully, but I want to tell you I was moved to tears on a number of occasions yesterday as I looked out at the sea of faces, the signs, the red, white and blue, ....friends, we are most assuredly are NOT ALONE!
So now what? "What can I do to get involved?", you ask. The first step is to make sure you stay in contact with the Indy Defenders of Liberty Meet-up Group. This will be the main "social group" site. There are currently LOTS of ways to be involved and get connected with other like-minded Hoosiers right in your area. Check out the message boards forum to get information on joining a Small Group. If there isn't a Small Group started in your area, YOU start one!! It's easy!! Just pick a date, a location and let me know and I'll put it out on the site. Take that step! Be a leader in your own community!
Also, continue to stay-up-to-date on the tea party site, http://www.indianapolisteaparty.com/. Now that the first "big event" is behind us, we will be working feverishly to improve the website to make sure everyone stays informed about the next steps in Reclaiming America! Want to volunteer or even take on a leadership role? Let me know! We will be having a leadership meeting as early as next week so that we can keep the fire burning!!
More importantly, don't forget to check out the Independence Caucus website to learn what truly goes on in Washington and WHY our calls, letters and emails really don't matter. As Frank Anderson, from the Independence Caucus said at the rally, you will find that there really isn't a Republican party or a Democrat party. It has become and "Incumbent" party. Their website, http://www.icaucus.org/, will show you why. Be prepared to be FURIOUS!
Again, on behalf of the over 100 Tea Party volunteers, THANK YOU Freedom-Loving Americans for joining us in having our voices heard. Let the non-representing representatives in Washington say, as Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto said after his attack on Pearl Harbor, "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."We are asleep no longer.
Richard & Laura Behney
Indiana Tea Party Coordinator
Posted by Team Hammond at Saturday, April 18, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
It is more than apparent that House Speaker Pat Bauer and his fellow Democrats in the General Assembly are not interested in giving Hoosier taxpayers permanent property tax relief.
Bauer and Company continue to play their childish games by refusing to give SJR1 a hearing in the Indiana house.
Rep. Davis presented House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer with a motion to suspend House rules for the purpose of voting on SJR 1. Speaker Bauer allowed House Republican Leader Brian C. Bosma to speak on the motion. “Rep. Davis has filed a motion pursuant to Rule 8 to suspend House Rule 85 immediately for a single purpose and that’s for voting on SJR 1,” Rep. Bosma said. Rather than allowing a vote on SJR 1, State Rep. Scott Pelath (Michigan City) quickly made a motion to adjourn as Bosma stood at the podium and House Democrats immediately exited the chamber. “Once again, the speaker has chosen to ignore House rules. Rule 8 clearly states that a motion to suspend a rule takes precedent over any other business and is in order at any time,” Rep. Jerry Torr said. “Instead of dealing with the motion to vote on the property tax cap resolution that more than 70 percent of Hoosiers want, they chose to adjourn.” (from Howey Politics)
So, let's get this straight. Polls show more than 70 percent of Hoosiers want permanent property tax caps. Yet the Democrats are chosing to ignore what their constituents so obviously want by refusing to vote on SJR1.
Just who do the Democrats represent down in the General Assembly? Their constituents or special interest groups and lobbyists. We'll bet you a dollar it's not the first choice!
Time to get on the horn and call Speaker Bauer at 1-800-382-9842 or email him at email@example.com and ask what he has against Hoosier taxpayers that he won't give us permanent property tax relief. His argument that he wants to wait to see what effect the caps will have on local governments is hogwash. There is still more belt-tightening that needs to be and should be done. Taxpayers aren't stupid. Clay doesn't need a leased car and the Hammond Special Events Coordinator doesn't need a take-home car. If taxpayers have to live within a budget so can governments!
If SJR1 does not pass this year, we need to work very hard to give Bauer and all his Democratic cronies the boot in the 2010 elections. The Democrats in the General Assembly are not a taxpayer's friend and never will be as long as Bauer remains in office and pulls the strings.
An April 1-2 Public Opinion Strategies Poll shows overwhelming support for property tax caps in Indiana. House Speaker B. Patrick Bauer’s refusal to allow a vote on the caps could be setting Democrats up for a major campaign liability in 2010.
Hoosiers support the caps 73-20 percent overall according to the poll commissioned by the Indiana Realtors. The intensity is over 3-1 for, 39 strong yes, 12 strong no. Virtually all demographics are supportive. Democrats support 66-27 percent. Independents support 72-20 percent. Self described liberals support 65-28 percent. Self described strong Democrats support 65-30 percent. Every income group is over 70 percent support, as is every age group. Urban 77-16; Suburbs 71-21, Rural 69-26.
Republican support is even stronger, all in the 80’s. The caps passed both the Indiana House and Senate by wide margins in March 2008. The constitutional amendment must pass both houses again by March 2010 in order to be placed on the November 2010 ballot.
From Howey Politics
In addition to the key votes on House Bill 1730, which takes away the right to a referendum on new school buildings, the Indiana State Legislature will be voting this month on several other key bills that will have a big impact on Hammond taxpayers.
SJR 1 PROPERTY TAX CAP IS IN JEOPARDY
Senate Joint Resolution 1 (SJR 1) would provide for a referendum allowing Indiana residents to vote to cap property taxes at 1% for single family homes, 2% for rental properties, and 3% for business and industrial. This would become an amendment to the Indiana Constitution and could not be taken away without a vote of the taxpayers.
House Speaker Pat Bauer (phone 1-800-382-9842, email H6@IN.gov) currently is holding up a vote on this key resolution to make property tax caps permanent. Contact Pat Bauer and your local representative telling them to PUT SJR 1 TO A VOTE THIS YEAR. Vote FOR SJR 1 and give the voters a right to choose to make the property tax caps permanent.
PROPERTY TAX INCREASE PROPOSED FOR HAMMOND
Hammond elected officials have proposed a 16 1/2 % increase in the real estate (property) tax rate for Hammond taxpayers. Let your representatives know what you think about that.
TAXES FOR REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION
Buses are very important to many people, and we do need a transportation system. Just be aware of the possible price.
Both the House and Senate are working on bills to establish a Regional Transportation District.
House Bill 1660 and Senate Bill 479 are in committees, and may be voted on before the end of this session.
These bills would give elected officials wide ranging powers to establish Regional Transportation Districts with even more wide ranging powers to establish new taxes including county income taxes, food and beverage taxes, special benefits property tax, county economic development taxes.
To keep a lid on new taxes, contact your State and local representatives.
Any State senator can be reached at 1-800-382-9467
Any State representative can be reached at 1-800-382-9842
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The Indiana State Legislature is voting this month on a bill that would take away your right to a referendum -- your right to vote -- on any new school buildings.
House Bill 1730 would make it possible for cities to build and remodel schools without a referendum -- without giving taxpayers a chance to vote on it -- if the schools are "green" or energy efficient. If any new construction includes energy saving options, it means you lose your right to vote on all new buildings.
The bill now is before the Indiana Senate, which will vote on it before the session ends at the end of April.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Contact your State senator (Frank Mrvan is Hammond’s) at (800) 382-9467 to let him know it is important to keep your right to vote on any new school buildings.
Contact Governor Mitch Daniels at 317-232-4567 and tell him to Veto the bill if it does reach his desk.
The House of Representatives already voted 52 to 48 to pass this bill. Did your representative vote to take away your rights to a referendum?
State House district 1 Linda Lawson voted YES email H1@IN.gov
State House district 11 Dan Stevenson voted YES email H11@IN.gov
State House district 12 Mara Candelaria Reardon voted YES email H12@IN.gov
If you are not happy that they are taking away your right to vote on these important and very large school spending issues, let them know.
Why it is so important to keep your right to vote on new schools
The School City of Hammond already has overburdened the taxpayers.
Debt obligations for the School City of Hammond total more than $330 MILLION*
*Principle and interest, rounded to millions, from the Indiana Dept. of Education
- That amount of debt comes to more than $23,000 per student.
- The $104 million in interest on that debt is more than the entire debt of the City of Hammond.
- Taxpayers of Hammond ultimately are responsible for this debt.
Building another high school could add another $250 million to that tax burden.
The School City of Hammond is failing the students.
The graduation rate for all Hammond schools ranks in the lowest 2% of all Indiana school districts.
More than half of Hammond's schools are failing:
Eight schools are on Academic Watch.
Five schools are on probation, with two of those in their 3rd year of probation.
None of Hammond’s four high schools meet State minimum requirements.
What you can do:
Attend the next school board meeting Thursday, April 23, 7 PM at Morton High School, 6915 Grand Avenue and let your voice be heard.
Contact the school superintendent Dr. Walter J. Watkins Phone: 219-933-2400 email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Team Hammond at Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Thursday, April 2, 2009
By VICKI URBANIK
A Senate Committee on Tuesday approved a plan to create a four-county transportation district with the powers to impose a new income tax in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties for current and future rail and bus service in the region, potentially giving a big boost to the South Shore extension.
The Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Transportation & Veterans Affairs unanimously passed a lengthy amendment to H.B. 1607 that would create a nine-member Northwest Indiana Regional Transportation District made up of county commissioners and county council members from the four counties.
The new transit agency would have the authority to impose an income tax of up to 0.25 percent on taxpayers in each of the four counties, with the rate determined by the level of bus and rail service in each county. The tax rate could go up or down in each of the four counties to correspond with the level of capital and operating funds in each county, as long as the rate does not exceed 0.25 percent.
The amendment appears to give the new transit board full authority to impose the tax, with no other local approval required, by a majority vote among the nine members. That suggests that a tax could be imposed in any of the four counties even if that individual county’s representatives vote against it.
The new regional agency would have separate rail and bus divisions. According to the amendment language, the current operators of the South Shore commuter service -- the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District -- would become the rail division of the new district. The Northwest Indiana Regional Bus Authority would be rolled into the bus division, as would bus services run by municipalities, such as those in Valparaiso, Gary and Hammond.
The new district board would be made up of one county commissioner and one county council member from each of the four counties. The county council member is to be the council president or another council member designated by the president.
The governor would appoint the ninth board member. This individual would serve as the district board chair and would not have voting powers, except to break a tie. The governor appointee must be an elected official from one of the four counties.
Among other responsibilities, the new transit board would hire an executive director and would have the authority to own property and to bond for capital improvements. As a public agency, its property would be exempt from property taxes.
The amendment approved Tuesday calls for the new income tax -- called the Regional Transportation Improvement Income Tax -- to take effect on Oct. 1 in the year that the tax is adopted, after the transit board approves a resolution and gives public notice of the tax in each county in which it is proposed.
The Senate Committee passed the amendment 8-0 ; the only Northwest Indiana lawmakers on the committee are Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, and Jim Arnold, D-Michigan City.
The bill now moves to the Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy. The Northwest Indiana lawmakers on that committee are Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso; Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake; and Lonnie Randolph, D-Gary.
The original House bill, authored by State Rep. Chet Dobis, D- Merrillville, was called the “West Lake” bill and called on the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority to establish separate funds for the South Shore extension to Lowell.
Dobis’ original bill also included language to require that the members of the RDA -- including Porter County -- remain as members for at least 10 years.
Dobis’ bill was amended in the House to include $53 million in appropriations from the federal stimulus bill for the South Shore commuter service as well as transit services in central Indiana. More specifically, the appropriations included $15 million toward the relocation of the South Shore tracks at the South Bend airport, $5 million for rail improvements in Michigan City, and $15 million for the initial engineering and environmental studies for the South Shore expansion to Lowell.
The amendment approved by the Senate Committee on Tuesday takes the House bill a giant step forward, by setting up a new government entity, as well as a local funding mechanism, for current and expanded rail and bus service.
Dobis’ bill passed the House 68-31. In the Senate, the bill’s sponsors are Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville; Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes; and Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso.
If the Senate-amended bill passes the full Senate, the bill would be sent to a conference committee, to resolve the differences between the House and the Senate versions.
The original language in H.B. 1607 requiring that the members of the RDA remain members for at least 10 years remains in place.
Posted by Team Hammond at Thursday, April 02, 2009
April 1, 2009
By John Byrne
Post-Tribune staff writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- Legislative supporters of rail and bus funding for Northwest Indiana are trying a new tack to get local taxpayers to foot the bills for the projects.
The Senate Transportation Committee voted Tuesday to create a four-county regional transportation district em-powered to levy an income tax as high as 0.25 percent to pay for mass transit in Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties.
The ambitious plan could raise $52 million per year to subsidize big-ticket capital projects and operating expenses, circumventing the local officials who have been unwilling or unable to adopt a tax themselves, particularly in Lake County.
If the income tax were levied at its maximum amount for each county, Lake County residents would kick in $22 million annually, Porter $12 million, LaPorte $5 million and St. Joseph $15 million, according to Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, who offered the proposal as an amendment to a House transportation bill.
Not coincidentally, Kenley's plan could pay the $350 million local share of the $1 billion-plus South Shore rail extension to Lowell and Valparaiso, and underwrite bus service in the area.
"There is a rough correlation there," Kenley, R-Noblesville, told the committee in explaining why he settled on a 0.25 percent maximum.
The nine-member, first-of-its-kind "super board" Kenley envisions would include a county council member and a county commissioner from each county, as well as a governor-appointed chairman, who would vote only to break ties.
The state budget agency would get final say on how high an income tax residents of each county would get saddled with, taking into account the capital improvement needs in each county, and the number of passengers and passenger miles each county contributes to regional mass transit.
Lake County, where a lot of work is required to complete the South Shore extension, might get a high capital assessment.
St. Joseph County requires less construction, but passengers heading into Chicago travel farther, adding to the operating assessment as the state figures an appropriate tax.
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, has pledged $500 million in federal transportation funds for the rail extension.
But the project has foundered in the General Assembly for lack of local matching revenue.
State Rep. Chet Dobis, D-Merrillville, said there seems to be greater momentum to get something done now.
"I'm more optimistic now than I was at this time last year," said Dobis, a staunch supporter of the South Shore rail project.
Before it becomes law, however, the package has to get approval from the full Senate and head to conference committee for further consideration. If it does run that gauntlet, the bill may end up looking far different from the one approved Tuesday.
In addition to funding bus and rail systems in the region, the board would set goals and standards for those divisions to meet.
The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, administrator of the South Shore commuter rail line, would report to the new board.
So would a bus service division created by the statute, which could spell the end of the Regional Bus Authority.
Dobis, author of the transit bill Kenley amended, voiced his disdain for the RBA during testimony Tuesday.
"Our RBA today, is a disaster," Dobis told the committee. "We have no idea where they're going."
Revealing a possible point of contention as the bill advances, committee member Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, defended the RBA.
"There are many among us who don't consider the RBA a disaster," she said.
Though she believes it will cut the RBA out of administering the region's troubled bus system, Rogers nonetheless voted for the proposal because it acknowledges the need for buses in Lake County.
Kenley's amendment stripped out of the bill language that would have directed $35 million in federal stimulus funds to South Shore rail projects in Lake County, Michigan City and South Bend.
The bill passed the Transportation Committee 8-0, and will next head to the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee for more debate.
Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Wheatfield, chairs Tax and Fiscal Policy.
He has expressed reservations about allowing Lake County to raise new taxes, arguing elected officials in Indiana's northwest corner haven't done enough to cut spending.
But Hershman said the cross-county membership of Kenley's board quiets his concerns.
"It makes me feel a little better that there would be a level of regional collaboration," he said.
Contact John Byrne at 317-631-7400 or email@example.com
Posted by Team Hammond at Thursday, April 02, 2009
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Dear Citizens of Hammond;
We have been informed that Mayor McDermott has prohibited his Police Department from providing this public service to Team Hammond's citizens. Chief Miller has known he has been on our agenda for over two months! Team Hammond's public dialog with the Mayor clearly stated that this was a public service that should be rendered to all Hammond citizens. The Mayor replied that such public service was not available to a group that openly opposed him during the last mayoral election.Team Hammond repeatedly stated the Mayor could rescind, and thereby recover from, his flawed decision. At this time, we must conclude, the Mayor will not reverse his decision.
Team Hammond regrets our immature mayor's position on this issue. We have always treated our guests with utmost respect, and Chief Miller would have been no exception. Chief Miller and his staff were to be recognized tonight for their advanced educational achievements.
Team Hammond is working to fill this gap in our programming with an alternate law enforcement source. Failing that, we will review updated FBI statistics and compile a citizen's analysis of improvements we would like to see from Hammond Public Safety.
From Jim Premeske - Team Hammond
Posted by Team Hammond at Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Team Hammond' next general meeting will be this Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at the Woodmar United Methodist Church, 7320 Northcote Avenue in Hammond. Meet and greet will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the general meeting to follow at 7:00 p.m.
Public safety is the topic of March's meeting. Guest speakers for the evening include Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller who will speak on public safety in Hammond and its surrounding communities and what trends (such as gypsy scams) to look out for. Other speakers include Sgt. Robert Cobb who will do a gang presentation and Officer Scott Holbrook who will speak on crime statistics.
Public safety is an issue that impacts everyone. You do not have to be a resident of Hammond to attend; everyone is welcome.
For more information, please contact George Janiec at (219) 678-6761.
Posted by Team Hammond at Saturday, March 28, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
March 26, 2009
By John Byrne
Post-Tribune staff writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- By the time Jim Premeske of Hammond took the microphone at the "Revolt at the Statehouse" rally Wednesday morning, some in the crowd had begun to revolt against the rally, drifting away to chat with friends or peruse literature from interest groups in the rotunda.
But Premeske pressed his case for property tax elimination in Indiana on behalf of the Team Hammond taxpayer group to which he belongs.
He took note of Lake County's special place in the theology of Indiana government reform.
"If one were to define Indiana in terms of the book of Genesis, Lake County would be Gomorrah," Premeske said. "South Bend, home to (House Speaker Pat Bauer), might be considered Sodom."
Premeske, who began speaking more than a hour into the event, spoke in favor of Gov. Mitch Daniels' local government reform agenda, which appears dead this legislative session.
He also likened many elected officials to sociopaths, citing serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and film villain Hannibal Lecter as paradigms of the self-absorbed way politicians enrich themselves to the detriment of their constituents.
"Did you elect a Dahmer or a Hannibal?" Premeske asked.
His speech came near the end of a smorgasbord of complaints by Hoosiers fed up with Indiana government.
Julia Vaughn, policy director for Common Cause Indiana, told the sign-waving crowd of about 200 that big-money lobbyists are hijacking the legislative process with payouts to lawmakers.
"We have to suspend belief to think legislators aren't being influenced by millions of dollars of lunches and dinners and gifts and tickets," Vaughn said.
Attorney Gary Welsh, who publishes the Advance Indiana blog, urged fellow Hoosiers to stand up against requests for more public money by sports teams like the Pacers and the Colts.
Contact John Byrne at 317-631-7400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Eric Bradner
The group brought signs, shirts, bumper stickers and creative chants to express messages opposing government on nearly every level.
"I just wonder," he said, "if the leadership hears what we're saying?"
Monday, March 23, 2009
For Immediate Release Contact: Paul K. Ogden
March 23, 2009 (317) 531-6127 (cell)
(317) 631-0172 (work)
--Citizen Leaders Pay Call to Legislators; Demand Reforms--
Indianapolis – Attorney Paul K. Ogden, 47, today announced finalized plans regarding the taxpayer rally dubbed the “Revolt at the Statehouse” to be held on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the North Atrium.
The focus of the “Revolt” is the anger the average citizen has with government at all levels which has been captured by big money interests and does not listen to ordinary citizens.
Ogden cited the populist uprising in the country, which is noted on the cover of Newsweek that hits the newsstands today, as one of the reasons for the rally. “You are seeing a populist rage sweeping the country like you have not seen in decades. People are angry as they see their hard-earned money being taken to give out to failing companies, like AIG and others. In Indianapolis , leadership of both the Republican and Democratic Parties is deeply involved in a corporate welfare culture that silences even the most well-meaning party members who dare speak out for the interests of the taxpayers.”
Gary Welsh, author of the blog “Advance Indiana,” has tirelessly reported about the proposed Pacer bailout, the overly generous Colts-Lucas Oil Stadium deal as well as other issues related to the Capital Improvement Board and other local issues. Welsh notes, “The CIB is filled with members who have serious conflicts of interest, not the least of which is the President of the Board, who represents the Simons who own the Pacers. The individuals on the CIB clearly do not have the best interests of the people of Indianapolis in mind when they decide they need to give another $15 million of our tax money to billionaire sports owners.”
Melyssa Donaghy who runs the blog Hoosiers for Fair Taxation noted that people are fed up with the back door deals and lack of transparency in how government operates. “The Revolt will include a call for ethics reform, including more transparency. People need to know what is going on in their government,” Donaghy said. “The conflicts of interest many of these politicians have need to be exposed and ended. We should not have our elected officials using their positions to make themselves and their friends richer at the expense of taxpayers.”
The speakers will include Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians. Titles of some of the speeches include: “Increasing Debt: Mortgaging Our Children’s Future,” “The Colts, Pacers and the Capital Improvement Board,” “Run over by the Speedway Redevelopment Commission,” “Lobbying and Ethics Reform,” “Transparency and Accountability in Government,” “Pay to Play Politics, Indiana Style,” and “Fun and Games in Evansville .” A speaker list is included below.
REVOLT AT THE STATEHOUSE SPEAKERS
(Wednesday, March 25, 2009; 11:30 to 1 p.m.)
"Increasing Debt: Mortgaging our Children’s Future"
– Lisa Kelly, former Libertarian Candidate for Lt. Governor
"The Colts, Pacers and the Capital Improvement Board"
– Gary Welsh, Attorney at Law and Publisher of Advance Indiana blog
“Government Grants & Public Corruption”
– Rev. Solomon, Author and Community Activist
"Run Over By the Speedway Redevelopment Commission"
- JoEllen Dotlich, SPEED
"Pay to Play Politics, Indiana Style"
– Mark Small, Attorney at Law and Author
"Transparency and Accountability in Government"
– Diana Vice, Lafayette-area Housewife and political activist; Publisher of Welcome to My Tea Party blog
"Lobbying and Ethics Reform"
– Julia Vaughn, Policy Director of Common Cause/Indiana
"Overreaching Arm of State Government"
--Jim Premeske, Team Hammond Taxpayers' Group
"Fun and Games in Evansville "
– Frankie Neidhammer, President Vanderburgh County Taxpayers Association
"How to Get Involved & Make a Difference"
– Melyssa Donaghy, political activist and publisher of Hoosiers for Fair Taxation blog
"A Call to Action"
– Paul Ogden , Attorney at Law, and publisher of Ogden on Politics blog.
Posted by Team Hammond at Monday, March 23, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
3/14/2009: Please keep reminding your elected public servants that the General Assembly needs to pass NOW the constitutional property tax caps in Senate Joint Resolution 1. You need to contact your State Representative, your State Senator, House Speaker Pat Bauer, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Crawford. Contact information can be found at http://www.finplaneducation.net/general_assembly_ratings.htm.
House Speaker Bauer has assigned SJR 1 to the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee. Subject to the intricacies of Indiana House Rules, there are three ways to get SJR 1 out of the House Ways and Means Committee to the floor of the House for a vote.
(1) SJR 1 can be passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee in time for a third reading no later than April 15. For SJR 1 to be considered like any other important bill, Speaker Bauer and Chairman Crawford would have to have a change of heart where they give working families the same respect they give single-interest property tax spenders. SJR 1 has been denied a Committee hearing because of false claims that it is necessary to wait a year to get more information about property tax cap effects. This delaying tactic was negated by the updated report issued on January 5, 2009, by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency that details the impact of property tax caps for every local government unit. If SJR 1 ends up being voted out of the House Ways and Means Committee, Chairman Crawford as the House sponsor of SJR 1 will still have to "call down" SJR 1 for both second reading amendments and a third reading vote on the House floor.
(2) Any State Representative can make a motion to suspend House Rule #85 and call SJR 1 back to the House from the Ways and Means Committee. The motion must be seconded by 51 State Representatives and 67 votes are required to pass the motion. In the current political environment, what this means is that 6 House Democrats must join 46 House Republicans to get the motion seconded, and 21 House Democrats are needed to pass the motion. It is unlikely that so many House Democrats will defy Speaker Bauer to champion the cause of working families.
(3) The House Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee can pass a recommendation to suspend House Rule #85 and call SJR 1 back to the House from the Ways and Means Committee. The House may adopt the Committee recommendation by a vote of 51 State Representatives. If needed to pass SJR 1 on the April 29 last session day, 67 State Representatives can vote to use House Rule #83 to suspend the constitutional rule requiring a bill to be read on three separate meeting days. Because the Rules and Legislative Procedures Committee is controlled by Speaker Bauer, the best chance for SJR 1 passage this session is for Speaker Bauer to use this Committee to get SJR 1 to the House floor for a last-minute vote as part of a legislative compromise.
Governor Mitch Daniels, with the assistance of Senate Republicans, will have an opportunity at the end of this General Assembly session to reach a Taxpayer Friendly Compromise with Speaker Bauer. The Taxpayer Friendly Compromise should include passage of SJR 1 in return for accepting one of Speaker Bauer's legislative priorities (such as using some of the state's reserve funds in the next budget).
Hoosiers who value two-party Statehouse politics, or Hoosiers who identify with the Democratic Party, must convince Democrat leaders that it is good politics to allow an Indiana House vote this session on SJR 1. If there is no SJR 1 vote this year - no matter what is done next year - fully 60% of Hoosiers voting for State Representatives in 2010 will label Indiana Democrats as the party that opposes a fair and affordable state and local tax burden. No amount of campaign contributions from single-interest property tax spenders will be able to change this perception. Presidential politics was the tipping point that kept the Democratic Party in control of the Indiana House this year. There will be no presidential politics in 2010 to skew Statehouse election outcomes, and more 2010 Indiana House races will resemble the 2008 District 45 election than the 2008 District 89 outcome. The 2010 Indiana House election is particularly important because the next General Assembly will be responsible for redistricting. If House Democrat leaders block SJR 1 passage this year, enough House Democrats will be doomed to 2010 reelection failure that a Republican House will redistrict Indiana Democrats into irrelevance for the next decade!
APATHY IS NOT AN OPTION! You must ACT NOW if the constitutional property tax caps in Senate Joint Resolution 1 are to be saved! Otherwise, the single-interest property tax spenders will win and we will soon have NO property tax relief to show for the latest statewide sales tax increase. The constitutional property tax caps in SJR 1 are necessary for a more fair and affordable working family tax burden.
From Watchdog Indiana
Posted by Team Hammond at Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Facts about Indiana Property Tax
It is the only tax in Indiana that is not transparent.
Property tax taxes a basic human need (shelter) and most citizens feel it is immoral of government to tax a basic physical need.
The State's Dirty Secret: Your property is used as collateral to secure bonds (State and Municipality spending loans).
Property tax caps will not fix the broken tax assessment and collection system.
Property tax caps will not change the fact that property tax is the most expensive tax to collect.
Property tax caps will not change the fact that your home will continue to be held to a subjective assessment performed by a government official or government contractor working within a very broken system.
Property tax caps mean that farmers, landlords, and businesses will pay a higher property tax than everyone else and will make taxation non-uniform and equal as required by Indiana's constitution!
Property tax caps mean landlords pay a higher property tax and will have to pass their tax on to renters.
Property tax caps mean that farmers who raise our food will pay a higher tax and have to pass the tax on to everyone who eats the food they raise.
Property tax caps means that businesses will pay higher tax and have to pass the bill on to every customer who buys their products and may make it harder for Indiana businesses to compete.
There are 150 other transparent fees and taxes in Indiana.
The property tax burden can be shifted to one or more of the other 150 forms of transparent taxation.
The property tax system is broken...literally, it doesn't work. Ask the assessors who were made the political scape goats for the state's incompetence how impossible the broken system is to work within.
At least two world class economists wrote plans for property tax repeal that WILL work.
Thousands of Indiana property tax appeals have not been settled.
Local muncipalities are forced to borrow shortfalls from the bond bank on still uncollected 2007 tax due to complete broken state of administration of property tax assessment and collection.
Property tax is the most expensive tax to collect.
When property tax is repealed in Indiana our economic engine will boom and Indiana will attract record numbers of investors.
From Hoosiers for Fair Taxation
Posted by Team Hammond at Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Sunday, March 8, 2009
By: Mark Kiesling
Sunday, March 08, 2009
I can't tell you how much I dislike the overused cliche about "speaking truth to power" but that is what Gov. Mitch Daniels did to an overflow crowd in Griffith on Friday.
That's right. The governor is not the power, you are.
You vote. You put the decision-makers in office. You deserve the government you get, and in Lake County's case, "you are entitled to all the crummy, graft-ridden government you are prepared to pay for," as Daniels put it.
His message was to clean house at a local level before appealing for assistance on a state level, and even from a Lake County point of view it's hard to see where his logic goes wrong.
"I can't get a business to come to Lake County if they think they are going to get ripped off on arrival," he said.
The Griffith Town Council and Team Hammond Taxpayers' Group sponsored Daniels' visit to Griffith High School on Friday and they got what they wanted -- a blunt message delivered with the subtlety of a train wreck and the charm of a tire iron.
Daniels bruised the feelings of some Lake County pols Friday. Cry me a river.
One of the smartest things Daniels has done as governor is to appoint a former political opponent, ex-Gov. Joe Kernan, as the co-chairman of a panel that came up with a report on how to reform, streamline and maximize efficiency in local and state government.What was the reaction of the Lake County contingent? To exempt Lake County from the reform.
Our situation is "unique," said state Sen. Sue Landske, the Cedar Lake Republican who voted with state Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, for the exemption, as well as sinking a move to eliminate township government and revamp county government through constitutional changes.
Lake County Surveyor George Van Til, a Democrat who often finds himself at odds politically with Daniels, nevertheless called "eliminating township boards a no-brainer," and said "excluding Lake County from the reforms was a cop-out, it's wrong, it an insult and does us all a disservice."
Lake County Republican Chairman John Curley, who would normally be expected to support the governor, chastised him instead. "I don't think it fits what should be happening in Lake County," he said. "Sue (Landske) looked at the whole bill, and thought it looked better for Lake County the way she voted. We'll have to wait and see how this thing shakes out."
It may be that Curley as Winfield Township trustee-assessor has a personal stake in this, but so does Van Til. The bill to amend the constitution would eliminate his elected surveyor position and replace it with an appointment.
Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed, to use another workhorse cliche.
When is Lake County going to wake up?
The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at email@example.com or (219) 933-4170
Posted by Team Hammond at Sunday, March 08, 2009
Saturday, March 7, 2009
By John Byrne
Post-Tribune staff writer
GRIFFITH -- Gov. Mitch Daniels is fed up with Lake County government and he's tired of pretending he isn't.
During a wide-ranging question-and-answer period with locals at Griffith High School on Friday, Daniels returned time and again to one point: Lake County will remain alienated from the rest of the state until voters here hold public officials to a higher standard.
"You are entitled to all the lousy, crummy, graft-ridden government you want and are willing to pay for," Daniels told a crowd of about 450 people, one of the largest turnouts he said he's seen at such a forum.
Daniels was invited to Griffith by Team Hammond, a property tax reform group, to discuss tax caps and township government reform.
The governor said those issues are symptoms of the broader political culture that makes Lake County a black sheep in the eyes of many Hoosiers.
"Ultimately nobody, not me, not anybody, can advocate for Lake County and Northwest Indiana unless there is some evidence the people here are prepared to clean up the act that has made the rest of the state look sideways at Lake County for a long time," Daniels said.
Some local officials in the audience bristled at Daniels' characterizations, with North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan Jr. calling it "unacceptable" for Daniels to sling arrows at Lake County elected officials as a group.
"I have made my career of five or six years at the township about reform, lowering payroll and cutting taxes," Mrvan said.
With Lake County's public transit systems in peril, Mrvan said local township offices that provide poor relief are becoming ever more important to people who'd find it difficult to travel to the county government center in Crown Point if the service gets centralized there.
"It takes 42 minutes to get to the county from my township," Mrvan said.
Some in the audience shouted for Mrvan to sit down.
Others applauded and yelled, "He has a right to speak."
Daniels also faced skepticism from residents who questioned the real benefit of eliminating townships.
Rita Jackson of North Township asked how the governor can guarantee she would actually see a lower tax bill if her township ceases to exist.
"There are no guarantees," Daniels said, before he guaranteed that poor relief could be more efficiently distributed than it is in Calumet Township.
The governor agreed that most of Indiana's elected officials have the best interests of their constituents at heart.
But he returned to his frequent complaint that Indiana's patchwork of 1,008 townships is a hopelessly antiquated, inefficient system that must be retired.
And he agreed his rhetoric on Lake County is getting harsher the longer he sees resistance here to change.
"I guess after five years of trying to speak always to the positive and encourage people to move in a positive direction, that I'm trying to express candidly my thought that I'm a little tired of waiting," he said.
Contact John Byrne at (317) 631-7400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Team Hammond at Saturday, March 07, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Members of Team Hammond Taxpayers' Group present Governor Mitch Daniels with a "taxpayer friendly" award for his continuing work on property tax and government reform. The award was presented after the town hall meeting at Griffith High School Auditorium on Friday, March 6, 2009.
Posted by Team Hammond at Friday, March 06, 2009
The next Hammond City Council meeting on Monday, March 9, should prove to be interesting if not downright entertaining.
Councilman Al Salinas plans on introducing a resolution appointing himself to a seat on the Port Authority Board.
The same seat Councilman Bob Markovich was appointed to by the city council and whose appointment is being disputed by Mayor McDermott.
McDermott has asked Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller for an opinion on council members holding two paying positions.
Now that's really rich. McDermott is complaining about Markovich double dipping as a councilman and port authority board member.
What about Councilman Kalwinski double dipping as a councilman and port authority board member?
What about when Scott Rakos was double dipping as a Hammond firefighter and a port authority board member?
And Councilman Salinas not only double dips as a street department foreman and 2nd District councilman, he wants to become a port authority board member and triple dip!
If the mayor wants the rules to apply to Councilman Markovich, then they should apply to the other councilmen and city employees as well.
Posted by Team Hammond at Friday, March 06, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Governor Mitch Daniels will be making a town hall appearance on March 6th, 12:00 Noon at the Griffith High School Auditorium. He will visit with members of Team Hammond Taxpayers' Group and Griffith citizens on the issues of Property Tax Relief and Government Reform. He wants to hear from Lake County residents who support local government reform.
The event is co-hosted by George T. Janiec of Team Hammond Taxpayers Group and the Griffith Town Council.
We encourage all Lake County taxpayers and voters that are concerned about Property Tax Relief and Government Reform to attend.There will be an opportunity to ask Governor Daniels questions about the pending legislation.
For additional information or questions call George T. Janiec - 678.6761 or Rick Ryfa – 924-7500 or visit http://www.griffith.in.gov/ and http://www.teamhammondtaxpayersgroup.org/
Posted by Team Hammond at Friday, February 27, 2009
Here's another example of taxpayer unfriendly legislation currently making its way through the Indiana house:
HOUSE BILL 1730
Green project public approval exception. Indicates that a project for the reconstruction, repair, alteration or retrofitting of a public building or structure to bring it into compliance with certain energy and environmental design standards is not subject to petition and remonstrance or referenda procedures.
What this bill does is to exempt public works projects from remonstrance or referendum under the guise of "being a green" or environmentally friendly project.
So this is how school boards (new Hammond high school) and elected officials are going to get around the taxpayers by claiming their "pork barrel" projects are environmentally friendly! Taxpayers will have no voice in these projects.
All the more reason for taxpayers to go down to Indianapolis on Wednesday, March 25 and make their themselves heard to our state legislators.
Posted by Team Hammond at Friday, February 27, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul K. Ogden
February 25, 2009
Indianapolis – Attorney Paul Ogden, 47, today announced plans to hold a taxpayer rally at the Indiana Statehouse on Wednesday, March 25, 2009, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The rally, which is called “Revolt at the State House,” is supported by several local political blogs including “Ogden on Politics” and “Hoosiers for Fair Taxation” and various taxpayer groups not only in Indianapolis but all across the state.The rally will focus chiefly on issues relating to corporate welfare, Indiana style “pay to play” politics, property tax reform, and the need for transparency and ethics reform. Particular topics are likely to include: “The Colts, Pacers & the Capital Improvement Board, “Pay to Play Politics, Indiana Style: Campaign Contributions & Government Contracts,” “The Executive and Legislative Revolving Door,” “Corporate Welfare – How Politicians Have Used Our Tax Money to Make the Rich Richer.”
Speakers, which will include Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians, will be announced at a later date.
Ogden stated: “One of the primary goals of the rally is to bring to the attention the issue of our taxpayer money being taken from hardworking men and women to make the rich richer. The situation with the Colts and Pacers is a perfect example, albeit just one example. The Mayor’s Office, the Capital Improvement Board and the Indiana General Assembly need to be asking the Colts and Pacers for concessions rather than asking average taxpayers to shell out more of their hard-earned money to make the Irsays and Simons wealthier.”
Ogden noted the tremendous work blogger Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana had done on this issue of corporate welfare in Indianapolis and that part of the purpose of the rally was to take these types of issues from the pages of the political blogs directly to the General Assembly.
Melyssa Donaghy of Hoosiers for Fair Taxation also noted that the rally will include the need for ethics reform. “Part of this rally will include a call for transparency, that the average person needs to be able to know what is going on in government,” Donaghy said. “The conflicts of interest many of these politicians have need to be exposed and ended. We should not have our elected officials using their positions to make themselves and their friends richer.”
More details on the “Revolt at the Statehouse” will be provided at a later date.
A decent turnout attended the Team Hammond general meeting at the Galaxy Hall in Hessville on Tuesday night.
George Janiec opened the meeting with an update on the February county council meeting. Most of the county council meeting centered around a hobby farm in unincorporated Lake County; how many roosters are too many and how many roosters are not enough? After much spirited debate, a compromise was finally reached.
He also talked about the county option income tax. The issue is not dead and can be resurrected at any time. County Commissioners Scheub and DuPey are still adamant about vetoing the income tax. Pressure needs to continue on our county council members to vote against an income tax.
George also touched on the food and beverage tax as a funding mechanism for the RBA and the elimination of bus service not only in Hammond but in Gary and East Chicago too. House Bill 1660 will create regional transportation districts in each of Indiana's 92 counties. These districts will have the power to enact a county option income tax, a county economic development tax, a food and beverage tax, and fees on vehicles. The RTD boards will be made up of local elected officials. House Bill 1660 likely will not pass the General Assembly this year but will most likely be resurrected in the 2010 legislative session. Taxpayers need to urge their legislators to vote against this taxpayer unfriendly legislation.
The single most important legislation in the 2009 General Assembly is Senate Joint Resolution 1, which would make the property tax caps permanent. It needs to be voted on and approved in this legislative session in order for a voter referendum to take place in 2010. House Speaker Pat Bauer is dragging his feet on SJR1 because he feels the ramnifications of the tax caps on city and county governments are not fully known. However, every year they delay in approving SJR1 only makes permanent tax relief harder to achieve.
Monday night's Hammond city council meeting was covered next. Councilman Kalwinski introduced a resolution rescinding Councilman Bob Markovich's appointment to the Port Authority Board. Attorney Berger said Markovich could only be removed if there was malfeasance in office. After much discussion, appeals and tabling of motions, the council voted 5-4 to rescind Markovich's appointment. Larry Rapchak reported that at the premeeting of the Port Authority, Councilman Markovich had not been allowed to take his place on the Port Authority Board. The matter will most likely end up in court.
Larry Rapchak next gave an update on the E-verify legislation (Senate Bill 580) pending in the General Assembly. E-verify legislation was eliminated from the federal stimulus package so it is very important that Indiana approve Senate Bill 580. E-verify is a simple process employers can use to verify if new employees are legal citizens. Senate Bill 580 is taxpayer friendly.
JoAnn Palko covered two more bills in the General Assembly. Senate Bill 452 would move municipal elections to even numbered years, move school board elections to the fall elections, consolidate precinct polling places in centralized voting centers, and ban public employees from running for office in the same entity in which they work. Senate Bill 232 which would have given the judges the right to fine public entities for violating open-door and public records laws. This legislative has been voted down but hopefully, can be revived before the legislative session ends in April.
Palko also stressed it is important to continue to contact your state representatives and state senators about pending legislation in the General Assembly especially SJR1, House Bill 1660, Senate Bill 580, and Senate Bill 452. Handouts were given with contact information on our area state legislators.
On Tuesday, March 3, 2009, there will be a rally at 5:00 p.m. against the proposed 15% NIPSCO rate increase at Savannah Hall at Indiana University Northwest. The event is hosted by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), and it is important to give the IURC your input as to why this rate increase should not be granted.
On Friday, March 6, 2009, Team Hammond Taxpayers' Group and other taxpayer advocates will be meeting with Governor Daniels to discuss government reform. The meeting will take place in the Griffith High School auditorium. The time of meeting will be forthcoming as soon as details are firmed up with the governor's staff.
On Wednesday, March 25, 2009, there will be a taxpayer rally at the Indiana State House for Hoosiers who are fed up with their government. The rally begins at 11:30 a.m. (10:30 our time).
Taxpayer groups from around the state will be in attendance, and there will be press coverage of the event. Carpooling will be available for those who would like to attend. This is the time to make your voice heard.
Team Hammond's next meeting will be on Tuesday, March 31 at the Woodmar United Methodist Church. On the agenda is public safety (with info on gangs in Hammond) and crime statistics. Guest speakers for the evening include Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller.
Meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m.
After attending the Hammond City Council Monday night, it has become more than apparent that there is no democracy in our city government.
The purpose of the city council is to provide checks and balances for a fair and equal system of city government.
Not so in Hammond.
It's disgusting we have city council members (Dan Repay, Al Salinas, Kathy Pucalik, Joanne Matanovich, and Mark Kalwinski) who continue to be a rubber stamp for the mayor. They are not representing the best interests of their constituents. They are representing the best interests of the mayor. That is not democracy; that is a dictatorship.
And it's really a shame that when during the course of the city council meeting, the mayor and his sidekick lawyer, Kevin Smith, pull certain city council members out of the meeting to meet with them privately. What kind of secret deals and agreements were being hashed out to get these city council members to vote a certain, we mean the mayor's, way?
McDermott is nothing more than a vindictive bully in the schoolyard. The only way is his way! To hell with the taxpayers and citizens of Hammond! Compromise and being a gracious loser are not in his vocabulary. And he aspires to be governor of Indiana?
The mayor has it perfectly clear he does not like Councilman Markovich. Why is that? Because Bob looks out for the Hammond taxpayers and doesn't rubber stamp the mayor's pet projects?
Why is the mayor so against Bob being on the Port Authority? It's not a simple case of the mayor not liking Bob. Is it because McDermott doesn't want Bob poking his nose in the Port Authority's finances? Is it because Markovich might find out where all the money is actually going and blow the whistle?
We say shame on Repay, Salinas, Matanovich, Pucalik, and Kalwinski for what they pulled on Bob Markovich on Monday night. If Councilman Markovich seeks legal action, there is no one to blame but yourselves.
What happened at the city council meeting Monday night was a disgrace to the citizens of Hammond. It was city government at its worst. It's too bad citizens don't have the option of recalling their elected officials in Hammond. Because we know five city councilpersons and one mayor who need to be recalled.
Friday, February 20, 2009
This non-partisan event will be widely publicized in the next month to all corners of the state by a network of tax and policy activists who led the 2007 Property Tax Protests and The Indiana Tea Party.
Posted by Team Hammond at Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Team Hammond will hold its next general meeting on Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at the Galaxy Hall, 6723 Kennedy Avenue in Hessville. Meet and greet will begin at 6:30 p.m. with the general meeting to follow at 7:00 p.m.
Items on the agenda include the county option income tax, funding for public transportation, government reform, Senate Joint Resolution 1 and other legislation in the 2009 General Assembly.
Anyone residing in Lake County who supports property tax reform and good government and wants to become better informed on government issues is welcome to attend this meeting.
Posted by Team Hammond at Thursday, February 19, 2009
Blunt Proof of the Feasibility to Permanently Abolish Property Tax
Melyssa Donaghy 317-938-8913
Max Katz 765-409-6669
BLUNT PROOF OF THE FEASIBILITY TO PERMANENTLY ABOLISH PROPERTY TAX.
Hoosiers For Fair Taxation, Senator Delph, Representative Noe, Representative Elrod and many other legislators along with Stop Indiana, attorney John Price, Eric Miller's Advance America, and the Statewide Taxpayer Alliance know that property tax abolishment, without substantial increases in sales tax and income tax, is realistic and possible. The economist Dr. Bill Styring's 2/2/2 Plan demonstrates that the state of Indiana can completely replace property tax without changing the state's current spending habits.
Dr. Styring's plan does not account for positive changes in Indiana's economy that will undoubtedly follow the elimination of property tax such as heavy real estate investment and increased consumer spending due to increased statewide disposable income. The real estate investment in Indiana alone would cause such an economic boom that it could likely end our abandoned property and foreclosure crisis. Property tax elimination would also likely cause a surge in Indiana's population as more people locate to Indiana to take advantage of real estate purchase opportunities without the burden of property tax. With the population surge would come more sales and income taxes.
The General Assembly does not have to adopt a specific plan until the year 2011. In the meantime, we recommend that the General Assembly approves the 27steps outlined in the report prepared by the Sheperd Kernan commission. While the Governor's commission cannot forecast the savings to the state once the plan is implemented, there is no doubt that the savings would be substantial--perhaps equivalent to the the entire property tax burden currently placed on Indiana's homeowners because our legislators have not had the political will to liberate Indiana's governing structure and her taxpayers from the 19th century.
Our citizen networks will work to replace all legislators who do not support property tax repeal in the November 2008 election.
The 2/2/2 Plan, to replace property taxes in Indiana based upon the latest revenue forecast (07/08 fiscal, estimate):
1) Current IN sales tax (state level rate of 6%): $5.601 billion2% increase would yield an additional $1.867 billion
2) Current corporate profits tax: ~$2 billion
2% increase would yield an additional $.286 billion ($286M)
3) A 2% statewide average of the COIT would yield $2.705 billion to cover local civil units of gov.
By adding these three together ($1.867 billion + $.286 billion + $2.705 billion), a total of $4.858 billion is realized; enough revenue to replace property taxes.
PROPERTY TAX HISTORY PREPARED BY DR. BILL STYRING
Indiana has a 70-plus year history of attempts to lower property taxes by raising other, non-property taxes. In every case these have failed miserably. The new taxes, or higher rates on old taxes, remain in place. And, in short order, property taxes rise back to their old levels, poised to roar even higher.
--1933. General Assembly imposes two new taxes: an individual gross income tax and a corporate gross income tax. The morgue of the Indianapolis Star indicates that the political leadership at the time said this was for property tax relief (1933 was the pits of the Great Depression, and people were losing their homes. Home prices declined by over 40% in the 1929-1933 period). Property tax relief was nonexistent. The state used the money to bail out the state's own finances.
--1963. General Assembly imposes a new sales tax at a rate of 2% and changes the 1933 individual gross income tax (from 1933) to an adjusted gross income tax (the one we have now) at a rate of 2%. Again, the ostensible reason was for property tax relief and again little PTR was forthcoming.
--1967. Those 1963 tax changes were raising more money than projected. The GA decides to give back 8% of sales and income tax revenue to local government for property tax relief. Local units spent the money. No PTR.
--1973. Gov. Otis Bowen launches the most determined PTR offensive yet. The sales tax goes to 4% and a new corporate supplemental net income (profits) tax is imposed. Strict property tax levy controls are imposed. It works... for a time. By 1980, property taxes adjusted for inflation are some 30% lower than in 1973. When Bowen leaves office the levy controls are relaxed. By the end of the decade, property taxes (adjusted for inflation) are back to 1973 levels. The doubling of the sales tax rate from 2% to 4% remains in place, along with the new corporate SNIT.
--2002. More fiddling with the sales tax in the hope of property tax relief. The results of this are obvious, or we wouldn't be debating the current property tax mess. All of this suggests that unless the property tax is totally ripped up by constitutional amendment, the assessment and collection mechanism dismantled, it will grow back. The PTR-inspired hikes in other taxes remain. That is our history. It is a terrible deal for taxpayers.
2. A vote in the 2008 legislative session for a constitutional amendment to repeal property taxes does not amend the constitution. It merely starts the amendment process. Amendments must be passed by two consecutively elected General Assemblies, then submitted to a referendum. Thus any amendment passed by the '08 Assembly must be passed by either the 2009 or 2010 legislatures, then submitted to the voters at the 2010 general election. The General Assembly does not need to decide on a "replacement revenue" package until the 2011 session.
3. What might such a "replacement revenue" package look like? The particular answer will come from the 2011 General Assembly and cannot be determined now (if for no other reason than forecasting state level taxes and property taxes out that far would be a most unreliable exercise. No one need be locked into any particular plan just yet. However, as an illustration that a replacement plan is feasible and less scary than many fear (we don't need to be talking about a 12% or 13% sales tax ... in fact, we should not be), consider just this one possibility.
Local sales taxes are generally very bad policy, for a whole host of reasons too numerous to mention in this short sketch. Sales and corporate taxes are best levied at the state level. It happens that roughly a 2% increase in the sales tax and a 2% increase in the corporate profits tax roughly take care of school propertytaxes. The loss of local control by the state assuming school property taxes is minimal. About the onlylocal control left is on building projects.
For local civil units, a statewide average increase in the individual adjusted gross income tax of about 2% suffices to replace local civil government property taxes, higher than 2% in some units, less than 2% in others.
Thus, a "2-2-2" plan~2% sales and 2% corporate profits at the state level for schools and a 2% average on personal income taxes for civil units—is about what would be needed. This is merely a ballpark projection to 2011.
There may be better plans, it's really a policy question for the General Assembly: do you want to make the trade of something like this in exchange for no-property-taxes-forever-on-anything? Everyone understands "zero."
4. Are there "practical problems? Of course. The two identified are how to make the civil government transition from a property tax base to an income tax base, and how to handle debt backed by property taxes. Without elaborating, the former can be handled using locator software (Map quest-type programs). The debt problem might be handled by treating the current state paid PTRC's as in lieu of property taxes (which they are) and paying PT-backed debt service from each unit's own PTRC.
Conclusion: Total elimination of the property tax via constitutional amendment is the only way to give property tax relief that will stick. The other tax action necessary to achieve this goal—in 2011-are large but not so scary as "a 13% sales tax." They are feasible. The question is for the General Assembly. Are we going to once again go down that 70-odd year path of failed PTR policies or are we going to rip the property tax up by the roots?
Posted by Hoosiers For Fair Taxation on Friday, January 4, 2008.