Since everyone is getting into the midsession assessment of the Indiana General Assembly, I figured no analysis would be complete without your favorite political talking head stepping knee deep into the hoopla.
First of all, if you think things have been relatively quiet at the Statehouse, you are correct. There is an entirely different atmosphere, but then again 1946 Europe was a lot more quiet than 1945. Republican super-majorities and Democratic super-minorities have actually made for more thoughtful discussions on issues. We all know how the story is going to end, so we can actually work on the policy.
If one must look for any sort of drama at the Capitol, it would be the back and forth between Gov. Mike Pence’s office and Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, over the proposed 10 percent income tax cut.
The two latest bits of news from that front: Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group, has jumped into the fray and has started some grass-roots advocacy to pressure lawmakers into passing the cut. And Bosma wrote a letter to the 92 Republican (county) chairmen explaining his position on not moving forward with the proposal.
Here’s what I think will likely happen. Both House and Senate leaders have told the governor that the April revenue forecast will likely determine whether he will get his tax cut. I think for that to happen, revenues will have to come in at least $250 million higher than natural growth projections.
Here’s why I say that. The Pence folks say the tax cut would put about a half-billion dollars back into the Indiana economy. However, state lawmakers are worried about an economic slowdown and the increasing costs of Medicaid.
Anything above $250 million would probably make a lot of lawmakers feel much more comfortable about the state of the economy. And with healthy budget surpluses and more money already in the budget for roads and schools, it’s pretty hard to not make the case for returning money to the taxpayers.
With respect to some of the other issues facing lawmakers,
I see an Indianapolis/Marion County/Hamilton County mass transit expansion passing, but without the train component from Noblesville to downtown. The bus expansion has always been the easy sell, the train, eh, not so much.
I think education reforms will continue forward, despite the protests by the status quo.
However, what I am looking for is the “sleeper” issue. It’s the one that no one sees coming, pops up out of nowhere and then quickly goes away.
I’m keeping an eye in the area of professional licensing. There have been some issues popping up regarding dietitians, midwives, chiropractors and physical therapists that have made my eyebrows arch just a bit. So don’t be surprised if something erupts in one of those areas.
So there’s my legislative assessment. Like I said, it’s been relatively calm. But then again, we are comparing all this to the last year of former Gov. Mitch Daniels and the battles over right-to-work, legislative walkouts and Super Bowls, so a little calm and quiet isn’t all that bad.
In fact, it’s quite welcome.
Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is an attorney and the editor and publisher of IndyPoltics.Org. He is also a frequent contributor to numerous Indiana media outlets. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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