"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"

"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"
aka "Miss Victory"

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Message from The Governor to The People

Our good friend, Brian Howey of Howey Politics, sent this statement from the Governor.

Gov. Mitch Daniels released a statement Monday evening saying he was "dismayed" by skyrocketing property taxes in Marion and other counties, ordered the Department of Local Government to explore ways to allow Hoosiers to pay huge bills in installments, and said he was "exploring some ideas with legislative leaders about how a special session might provide immediate relief directly to property taxpayers who have been especially hard hit." Daniels had been on vacation when property tax bills with double and triple digit increases began hitting property owners in Indianapolis. During that time, more than 1,500 people in two separate protests in front of the Governor's Mansion closed down Meridian Street. Daniels said, “I kept in close touch with events during my week of family vacation, and like everyone am dismayed about the size of residential property tax increases in Marion and some other Indiana counties. Obviously, increases of the magnitude some homeowners are facing are unacceptable and we must look for immediate help and long-term reform." The governor said, "Local assessment that claims Marion County home values grew 19 percent faster than commercial property is another obvious factor in Indianapolis’ acute problem. Although the cause of the problem is local, state government has tried repeatedly over 35 years to relieve the property tax burden on Hoosier citizens. Through sales and income taxes, the state already provides more than $2 billion annually -- a quarter of total property taxes -- to subsidize local government spending. The recent legislature dedicated another half billion dollars to this purpose, and also gave localities major new flexibilities to reduce property taxes and replace them with income taxes. This new power to reduce property taxes has not yet been used in Marion or any other county." Daniels said he has directed the Department of Local Government Finance to approve any county’s application to permit homeowners to pay their property taxes in installments and to extend bill due dates. I have ordered the Indiana Bond Bank to facilitate short-term financing." As for a possible special session of the Indiana General Assembly, Daniels said, "I have instructed DLGF to probe the unexplained disparity between residential and commercial reassessment in many counties, taking follow-on action if warranted. The state will not approve pending budget orders until commercial and industrial real estate assessments have been further analyzed. DLGF also will notify localities that upcoming budgets that spend above the rate of inflation will be rejected until spending is under control. Pending and future bond issuances also will be held in problem counties." And the governor promised to take a long view of what has been described as a crisis. "Looking ahead, some costs now borne locally, such as the child welfare levy, can be shifted to state government, never forgetting that the money all comes from the same taxpayers," Daniels said. "The bottom line is there can be no solution without greater control of local spending and borrowing. That means greater scrutiny by taxpayers and by state government, and it means fundamental reform for the long term. We have far too many layers, elected offices, geographic units, school districts and overhead. I will have more to say on this subject in a week or so.”

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