Tue March 20, 2012
Full-day kindergarten, tax reform bills signed into law
Governor Mitch Daniels says full day kindergarten is now a reality for all Hoosier children, and he hopes it’s a permanent reality.
Funding for full day kindergarten has been slowly increased over several years. A bill Governor Daniels signed Tuesday adds more than $80 million to kindergarten. Daniels says that’s enough to make it possible for virtually every Hoosier child to participate without parents paying out of pocket.
“Any additional charges, the bill prohibits school districts – now that they’re fully funded – from charging anything for it.”
The bill only appropriates the money for the 2012-2013 school year. But Daniels says that’s only because making the funding permanent this year would have meant opening up the state budget in a non-budget session:
“Everybody understood that it will go into the base and it will be a permanent fixture.”
The legislation signed Tuesday also allocates more money for victims of the State Fair stage collapse with a particular emphasis on providing more money for victims with long-term disabilities.
Other legislation the governor signed eliminates the state’s inheritance tax and changes the automatic taxpayer refund.
Among the changes made to the state’s taxpayer refund was an increase in the budget surplus necessary for the refund, making it harder to trigger in the future. This year’s potential refund is largely unchanged with the exception that it will be distributed equally, rather than based on income levels. And Governor Daniels says new estimates show the refund might be greater than previously thought.
“Something closer in the area of $70 an individual, $140 for a joint return.”
The refund will not be distributed in checks to taxpayers, but in a credit on next year’s taxes.
The state’s inheritance tax, when totally phased out over a ten year period, will end up costing the state an estimated $165 million annually. But supporters say the tax was driving older Hoosiers out of the state, so eliminating it will keep some of them here and help offset the cost.