2013 Regional Legislative Positions
Oppose all unfunded mandates
State lawmakers should review each proposal that impacts local governments, including school systems. If legislation requires action, and the action is not funded, the legislation should be opposed.
Reclaim transportation funding
Our transportation infrastructure is key to our economic well-being, yet transportation funding is running thin. To expand needed road funds, continue to study and implement alternative funding mechanisms including toll roads, public/private partnerships, and leasing of state property. Perhaps the largest, most immediate source of money comes from money collected at the pump, but not spent on roads. Re-capture the $130 million of fuel tax annually diverted to other state agencies. Additionally, consider ways to claim some, if not all, of the sales tax on gasoline for transportation infrastructure. Currently sales tax is collected at the pump, making us one of the highest taxing states on fuel. But none of that money goes to building, improving or maintaining our vital roads.
Uncloak the collection of local option income taxes
Through the property tax caps and other limitations, state lawmakers have asked our local governments to find alternative revenues. However, we believe some of the local option income tax collections never make it back to our communities. We support legislation for a more transparent collection of local income taxes. Local governments need to know how much local income tax is owed and collected in their communities to ensure that money is returned from the Department of Revenue. Alternatively, allow local governments to collect those taxes themselves.
Support a changing workforce
As our economy changes, the workforce needs to gain skills that match available jobs. We encourage support for training programs to help our workers learn skills the companies are seeking. In addition, we urge lawmakers to consider an unemployment bridge that would create a way to transition people on unemployment compensation back to work. This would allow for partial unemployment compensation for people willing to take a temporary position that would pay less than unemployment compensation.
Promote intellectual economic development
Support establishment of a new state-sponsored research institute. Governor Pence, in his “Roadmap for Indiana,” outlines a new entity, Indiana Applied Research Enterprise, to accelerate commercialized innovation in our universities and life sciences companies. This idea has much merit and would spawn new innovations.
Clarify Education Accountability
The economic development efforts of our communities are impacted by the perception of our public schools. While we applaud the efforts of policymakers to simplify school achievement into an A-F scale, we hold grave concerns that the report card does not match performance. The grading is not transparent. In particular, growth in student learning should be weighted more heavily in the grading of our schools.
Support early childhood education, including preschool
Some families in our communities are able to provide rich learning opportunities for their children before kindergarten, but many others are not. There is critical need for improved preschool opportunities, especially for low-income children whose families may not have the means to provide needed learning opportunities in the home or to provide a high-quality preschool experience. If the state seeks to establish publicly funded preschool programs, those programs must maintain parental choice, focus on the families in greatest need, and focus on learning outcomes that integrate with elementary school.
Support sales tax collection on Internet purchases
Place Indiana businesses on the same playing field as businesses selling over the Internet. Support the collection of on-line sales tax. We do not support the creation of a new tax. But regular sales tax is owed, and rarely collected.
Provide access to health care
The state must continue to work with the federal government and local providers to make the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act work for Hoosiers. In addition, support reinstating the wellness tax credit. This incentive to start a wellness program, can increase attendance, boost morale and productivity, as well as positively impact health care coverage cost.
Protect water resources
Support a water policy to stabilize Indiana’s economic future and effectively compete with other states. Indiana has significant water resources, especially in Northern Indiana. A firm policy/plan is needed in order for the state to effectively manage these resources, as well as to ensure delivery of an adequate, reliable and affordable supply of water. Such a plan must treat the source communities fairly while aiding economic development statewide.