Indiana Senate Republicans to focus on balanced budget, K-college funding, property tax caps

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana Senate Republicans will focus next session on balancing the two-year state budget, protecting education funding for K-12 and higher education, and again passing the constitutional amendment capping property taxes. All of which, they say, will bolster long-term economic development and job creation across the state.

Senate President Pro Tem David C. Long (R-Fort Wayne) met with his leadership team at the Statehouse yesterday and today to discuss their “focused caucus agenda” for the 2009 legislative session which organizes Nov. 18:

Balancing the State Budget: GOP senators said their number one goal for the coming session will be to craft a balanced state budget. They pledged to work diligently with Senate Democrats as well as the House, but are committed to a budget that spends no more than the state receives in revenue.

Protecting K-College Funding, Higher Ed Accessibility: Senate Republicans said protecting the funding for K-12 students as well as keeping college affordable and accessible are the best long-term investments the state can make in these difficult economic times. They said the future of our state depends on a better educated workforce and that this investment must begin with our children.

Permanently Capping Property Taxes: Long and fellow Senate leaders called on legislative colleagues to again pass a constitutional amendment capping property taxes at 1 percent on owner-occupied homes, 2 percent on other residential and agricultural properties and 3 percent on businesses. Lawmakers successfully passed the amendment last year, but must do so again in 2009 or 2010 before the constitutional change can be considered by Indiana voters. They said there can be no guarantee that the property tax reforms passed this year would be permanent unless these changes were written into the Indiana Constitution.

Continuing Job Creation: Republican Senators committed to continue bolstering job creation and economic development statewide by keeping taxes low, providing an educated workforce, avoiding government regulation and incentivizing business expansion and investment.

Long was flanked by other Republican Senate leaders as he discussed 2009 legislative goals with Statehouse reporters. On hand were Sens. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), Majority Caucus Chair; Connie Lawson (R-Danville), Majority Floor Leader; Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), newly appointed chair of the Senate Committee on Appropriations; Brandt Hershman (R-Wheatfield), the new chair of the Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy; and Teresa Lubbers (R-Indianapolis), Assistant Majority Floor Leader and Chair of the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development.

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