Indiana General Assembly starts work for 2022 next week

("Indiana Statehouse" by Shawna Pierson, CC BY 2.0)

INDIANAPOLIS (Network Indiana): You may get a break in your state taxes if the Indiana General Assembly decides the state’s expected $5 billion budget surplus warrants it. The legislature will effectively begin its three-month session Tuesday, and will debate issues and make laws regarding your tax money, schools, COVID-19 and possibly medical marijuana.

Gov. Eric Holcomb is expected to announce his priorities Monday afternoon.

The mostly Republican legislature will consider a bill that could ban certain teachings in school that some people say are aligned with Critical Race Theory. They’ll also consider whether to begin to look at what medical marijuana legalization may look like in the state, a move being pushed mostly by Democrats.

Some COVID-19-related bills will be considered, including one that could require employers to pay for testing, a move opposed by Democrats, and a bill that would ban discrimination in the workplace, based on whether someone has received a COVID shot.

But, lawmakers are also dealing with the expected $1.9 billion in expected growth in state tax collections, which has already triggered a refund of $125 per payer, and whether the now estimated $5 billion surplus justifies a tax cut.

Dr. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, supports a tax cut.

“I think we’ll still continue to have the discussion and debate between the House and the Senate. This revenue forecast supports our position,” he said. “Citizens have worked hard and deserve a break.”

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen), sounded a bit more cautious, meeting with reporters in late December. His belief is that the legislature should look at the possibility of paying off some debt, and should be cautious about next year’s budget, when the money might not be as plentiful.

“It’s very positive news and we’ve all been very careful with how we’ve used our fiscal resources and I think it’s an opportunity to deliberate on what we do with these resources,” he said.

Mishler said the state has some triggers, which include a payback to people that you may have heard about earlier this week. Another is an automatic payment to debt owed to a teacher pension fund.

“’22 is obviously very positive. But, if you look at ’23, are we reaching a new plateau and then the sales tax levels off and then the corporate tax also levels off?” he said. “I think that ’23, following a very positive ’22 is the one we need to look take a look at and obviously we’ll revisit that one year from now.”


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