Senate Republicans tout inflation relief proposal over governor’s refund – Inside Indiana Business
Senate Republicans on Wednesday proposed an alternative form of inflation relief for Hoosiers, thwarting Gov. Eric Holcomb’s request to return $1 billion to Hoosiers in the form of $225 checks.
“We think this is the best way to relieve all the Hoosiers and keep the money in Indiana State,” said Sen. Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville.
Bray noted that the country’s 9.1% inflation rate reported in June hit Hoosier’s budgets the hardest in the food and gas sectors. His chamber’s proposal caps the gasoline sales tax, which automatically increases each month based on the price of gasoline, at 29.5 cents per gallon until June 30, 2023 or the end of the fiscal year. .
Gasoline sales tax could decrease during this period if fuel prices decline.
Erin Murphy, Gov. Eric Holcomb’s press secretary, sent a brief statement Wednesday after the press conference announcing the bill.
“When the General Assembly meets next week, the more formal and public process will begin. Governor Eric Holcomb will continue his discussions with legislative leaders and members on the multiple issues before Hoosiers today, including the best way to return hard-earned taxpayer dollars to Hoosiers in a timely and meaningful way,” Murphy said in the statement.
House Republicans pass Holcomb’s proposal in House Bill 1001, which has yet to be made public.
The Senate measure — Senate Bill 3 — also repeals the 1-cent fuel tax increase that went into effect July 1, bringing the fuel tax down to 32 cents until the end. of the next exercise. It’s unclear how much money the gas tax changes would save Hoosiers.
In addition, the Senate proposal would suspend sales tax on residential utilities for six months, including the 7% sales tax on electricity, water, gas, internet and telephone bills. .
“By suspending the 7% sales tax on residential utilities, we can relieve nearly every Hoosier, with estimated savings of $260 million statewide,” said the project’s sponsor. law, Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, in a statement. “This concept would benefit more people than the proposed refund to taxpayers, and all savings would go to Indiana households.”
Bray said he didn’t have an estimate of how much the average Hoosier household could expect to save.
Funds dedicated to other areas
Bray said the Senate proposal will also pay $400 million to the teachers’ retirement fund, in addition to the $2.5 billion already earmarked for pension relief this month.
For capital projects budgeted in 2021 that have exceeded their budgets due to inflation, an additional $215 million will cover their increased costs.
A second spending bill will address the needs of post-Roe parents who have been denied abortions, while strongly encouraging adoption.
Indiana has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the country, and social services have failed to adequately address the poverty of young families. Parents who are denied an abortion are more likely to be impoverished, research shows.
Under Senate Bill 2, an “initial” investment of $50 million will go to four agencies, which can allocate the funds to programs that support healthy pregnancies and families. The Department of Health, Family and Social Services Agency, Department of Children’s Services, and Department of Homeland Security may distribute funds to programs that:
Supporting the health of pregnant women
- Address pregnancy planning, including long-acting reversible contraception
- Meeting the needs of low-income families with children under four
- Increase access to child care services
- Support foster or adoptive placement
- Prevent children from entering DCS
- Fund Safe Haven Baby Boxes
A recent article from Washington Post reported that women refused abortions rarely choose adoption, estimating that reducing access to abortion could make 10,000 more infants available each year. With around 1 million parents on adoption waiting lists, that number won’t make much of a difference.
The bill would increase Indiana’s adoption tax credit from $1,000 to $10,000, which alone would represent a tax impact of $5 million.
Senate disagreement with Democrats and House Republicans
Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, mocked Republicans for recycling ideas previously introduced by his caucus, including defunding doulas, suspending the gas tax and fighting against infant/maternal mortality.
“I say hooray to my colleagues for bringing forward legislation that we’ve proposed in the past and they voted no,” Taylor said. “We commend our colleagues for coming up with ideas to help Hoosiers across Indiana; it was time. We should have done this months ago.
Taylor criticized the Republican supermajority for voting to cut excess funds for families receiving food aid months ago and now turning to utility bills.
“It’s inconsistent,” he said. “Whatever economic package they have to relieve Hoosiers, I am supportive. But, however, if you have to do it, do it the right way and don’t play games with money.
House Speaker Todd Huston said in a statement that his caucus would prioritize sending checks to Hoosiers, as Holcomb suggested.
“The Hoosiers need help now and Indiana can give them their money back,” Huston said. “Our state’s fiscal year-end shows an incredibly strong economy and it underscores why, provided this refund is not only fiscally prudent, it is the right thing for Hoosiers to do.”
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