Republicans celebrate, Democrats lament missed opportunities at 2022 session's end
Republican legislative leaders trumpeted their victories as the 2022 session wrapped up in the early hours of Wednesday morning, while Democrats lamented what they view as missed opportunities.
House Republicans pushed for significant tax cuts for months. Senate Republicans were less enthusiastic, pushing back on major reductions up until the very end of session.
But the House GOP secured a $1 billion tax cut package, HB 1002. And Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said it will get money into Hoosiers’ pockets while not straining state finances.
“Making investments in the future and yet giving ourselves lots of flexibility to see what happens as we’ll go into a budget year next year,” Huston said.
The package includes a reduction of the state income tax, from 3.23 percent down to 2.9 percent. But that step-by-step cut will take place over at least seven years. And it will only go through if Indiana's revenue grows at least 2 percent and the state eventually pays off outstanding pension fund debt.
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If the governor signs the bill, as expected, the first income tax reduction takes place Jan. 1, 2023, when the rate is reduced to 3.15 percent. For a Hoosier making $30,000, that equates to a savings of $24. For a Hoosier earning $50,000, it's $40 less on your tax bill.
House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) said if Republicans really wanted to help Hoosiers, they would’ve suspended the gas tax, as Democrats proposed.
“Big mistake and something that’s obviously been done in the past in times of need, you know, with the gas prices really rising,” GiaQuinta said.
The tax cut package also eliminates two utility taxes that Hoosiers see on their utility bills. Those cuts will take effect July 1 and save the average customer a few dollars on their monthly bill.
Senate Republicans spent almost all of the session pushing back on significant tax cuts, arguing an uncertain economic picture made it prudent to wait. And the Senate did ultimately hold the line on some business tax cuts while including in the bill major pension debt reduction, a priority of theirs.
Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) lauded that, along with a revamp of the state’s economic development tools in SB 361.
“So that we can begin to compete for some, what are I think, transformational opportunities here in the state of Indiana,” Bray said.
Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) was focused on a different bill at session’s end – HB 1296, which lets Hoosiers carry handguns in public without getting a permit. That was almost universally opposed by law enforcement.
"I think that’s a very dangerous bill and I think that we’re going to pay. And I pray that our officers in blue are not the ones that are going to pay for it," Taylor said.
Taylor predicted that groups like the National Rifle Association will push for further measures to weaken Indiana gun regulations.
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