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Strengthening Indiana Plan – Part 1: Protecting Hoosier Taxpayers

Last week, Indiana House Republicans came out with an aggressive agenda designed to take on the daunting tasks facing Indiana (jobs, budget slashing, expansion of education opportunities), while at the same time reasserting states rights by taking a swipe at Washington who is increasingly butting heads with states nation wide.

The GOP plan, referred to as the “Strengthening Indiana Plan“, has four pillars:

  1. Protecting Hoosier Taxpayers
  2. Promoting Hoosier Job Creation
  3. Expanding Education Opportunities
  4. Stand Up to Washington, D.C.

During last week’s press conference to the unveil the plan, Republican Leader Brian Bosma stressed that the the GOP was “up to the challenge” to craft a truly balance budget.  “We proved that we can do it – without raising taxes – first in 2005, and we are going to balance the budget again without raising taxes“.  The emphasis is mine, but that emphasis needs to be given since B. Pat Bauer, the ever so clever Speaker, somehow heard that as “Republicans will raise taxes”.  See the clever word play?  Yeah, I don’t either.  But to be sure, Bosma issued another statement clarifying the House Republicans stance on taxes:

It’s clear we have reached the silly political season when a group of Republican leaders take a “no tax” pledge, and their Democrat counterparts twist it into a “which tax” pledge. Even more ironic is this misrepresentation comes from the champions of the largest tax increase proposals in our state’s history, attempting to cover their consistent record of more taxing and more spending. On behalf of the House Republican Leadership team, let me clarify our pledge in no uncertain terms: “No tax increases, no way, no how, no matter what Speaker Pat Bauer says.”

Get that? I thought so.  

But there are a couple of things that I really like about what they’re proposing.  Part of the pledge to protect taxpayers is the move toward meaningful transparency in government budgets.  And we’re not just talking about at the state level.  State agencies should already be providing budget information, lists of major contracts, lists of state owned property and salaries of employee and elected official’s salaries.  A similar part of the pledge would be  applied to local governments, k-12 schools and higher education to provide budgets, debt service revenue sources in addition to lists of major contracts, and salaries of employee and elected official’s salaries.

I know what you’re thinking “But Josh, doesn’t this already happen?”  To some extent, yes.  But where do you go for all of this information?  Is it easy to locate?  Are you, as a Hoosier citizen willing to wade through pdf. after pdf. of school board notes just to find your local school corporations’ s budget?  To a certain extent (and this will in turn save money in terms of locating it all), but the House GOP would like to create a one stop shop for all of this information.  From the state all the way down to your local school board.  Besides, we as Hoosier taxpayers deserve to know how our hard earned money is being spent.

But they aren’t just focusing on next year.  They also have an immediate focus on seeing the passage of the Constitutional Tax Cap Referendum which will take place in upcoming November election.  Consider this.  According to a recent Ball State analysis, overall household income will increase more than $3.9 billion (2.4%) over the next 3-5 years because of the caps.

So, what we have include transparency, a declaration of raising no taxes and the more immediate impact of support for capping property taxes.  And this is just 1/4 of the plan.   There is still more to come.

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