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Friday, February 24, 2017
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  • WEST LAFAYETTE – The General Assembly is in session, and the big issue this year looks to be road funding. How will we raise the additional $1 billion or more that we need to maintain our roads? Funny thing, we seem to be wedded to the idea that those who use the roads should pay for them. We don’t always think this way for other expenditures. We don’t for K-12 education. The Constitution doesn’t allow tuition for public schools. The authors must have thought that an educated public benefitted everyone, not just the kids and their parents. You could make the same argument for roads. We all benefit whether we drive or not. Even if you walk to the grocery store, the food on the shelves has arrived in trucks, driven on roads. But, for whatever reason, we want drivers to pay for roads. That’s why we accept excise taxes on motor fuel as a way to fund road maintenance.
  • WEST LAFAYETTE – Is it September already? While I’m gearing up for my economics class at Purdue, it’s a good time to take a look at the economy. Got to offer those eager young people the latest word!  Let’s start with gross domestic product, our main measure of goods and services production. GDP grew 1.2 percent above inflation from July 2015 to June 2016. That’s pretty slow. Don’t blame consumers. Consumer spending increased 2.7 percent above inflation over the past year, and when people buy, businesses produce more products and hire more employees. There are good reasons to think that consumers will keep spending. Job prospects are better. Wages are edging upward. Home and stock prices are up. Let’s put consumers down for 3 percent spending growth next year.
        
  • WEST LAFAYETTE – The good folks at the Indiana Department of Education sent me some school finance numbers to play with. School finance is a big topic in the Indiana General Assembly this year, so this is a good time to do some number crunching. Here’s number crunch one. In fiscal year 2015 – that’s July 2014-June 2015 – the state will distribute almost $6.6 billion to public school corporations and charter schools. State aid was $6.2 billion in calendar year 2012 (it was switched to fiscal years in 2013), so that’s an increase of 5.1 percent in two and a half years. Consumer price index inflation was about 3.4 percent during that period, so there’s been a small increase in what state aid can buy. Inflation is expected to be about 2 percent per year during the next biennium. Will aid increase enough to match? The increase in state aid will be one of the most closely watched numbers in the debate over the next budget.
  • WEST LAFAYETTE – Once again, farmland assessments and property taxes are going up. The Department of Local Government Finance, which oversees the property tax in Indiana, has set the base rate per acre of farmland for 2015 taxes at $2,050 per acre. That’s a 16 percent increase from the base rate for 2014 taxes. In December the DLGF announced the base rate for 2016 at $2,420, another 18 percent increase. The base rate has been rising for years. But, this year, it’s a hot topic in the General Assembly. The base rate is the starting point for farmland property tax assessment. It’s a statewide dollar amount per acre. It’s adjusted by each acre’s productivity index so that the acre’s value reflects how much corn it can grow. Some values are adjusted downward for factors like forest cover or frequent flooding. The resulting assessment is multiplied by the sum of the tax rates for the local governments where the land is located. That’s the tax bill.
  • WEST LAFAYETTE - The headline said “Hoosiers’ taxes rise as income goes down.”  The story told of the Tax Foundation’s finding that Indiana taxes had increased from 8.4 percent of income in 2001 to 9.5 percent of income in 2011. Like many, I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding!” Our Legislature has passed big tax reforms, we’ve voted for constitutional amendments, we’ve seen property tax cuts, income tax cuts, corporate tax cuts. And our tax burden has gone up? How?

  • By LARRY DeBOER

    WEST LAFAYETTE -The Indiana General Assembly may consider eliminating property taxes on personal property in the upcoming session. Personal property is almost entirely business equipment. Eliminating this tax could encourage more business investment in Indiana, especially since some of our neighboring states have already eliminated this tax. Personal property owners pay about a billion dollars in property taxes to local governments, which is 16 percent of total property taxes. Eliminating this tax would create some big tax and budget issues for legislators to consider. Here's why.

  • WEST LAFAYETTE — July 11 was one of the great days on the number-crunching calendar. It was Indiana’s “close-out,” the day the Indiana State Budget Agency wraps up the numbers for the fiscal year.
        
    And there’s no doubt, we’re in good shape. We took in more revenue than we spent in fiscal 2013, and we’ve got nearly $2 billion in the bank, which is a healthy 13 percent of the total budget.
        
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  • White House asked FBI to discredit Kremlin/Trump campaign story
    "We didn't try to knock the story down. We asked them to tell the truth.” - Presidential press secretary Sean Spicer, reacting to reports from CNN and Fox News that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked a top FBI official to dispute media reports that President Trump's campaign advisers were in frequent touch with Russian intelligence agents during the 2016 election. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations, both Fox and CNN reported. FBI Director James Comey rejected the request for the FBI to comment on the stories, according to sources, because the alleged communications between Trump associates and Russians known to U.S. intelligence are the subject of an ongoing investigation.

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  • Congress has authority to review Trump tax returns. It should
    Harvard Prof. Mihir Desai and Edward Kleinbard, a former chief of staff of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, write in the Washington Post that Congress has the authority via the federal tax code to review President Trump’s tax returns. You can read their article by clicking here. Trump broke modern precedent by being the first presidential candidate in modern times to refuse to release his taxes. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius writes today, "We may be missing the forest for the trees in the Russia story: The Kremlin's attempt to meddle in the 2016 U.S. presidential election is part of a much bigger tale of Russian covert action — in which Donald Trump's campaign was perhaps a tool, witting or unwitting." With Kremlin interference in the 2016 presidential election, a development some in Congress have called an “act of war,” and with reports that the Kremlin and senior Trump campaign officials were in consistent contact, which was a story CNN and Fox News report on today, Members of the Indiana Congressional delegation should join a call for a review of the President’s tax returns. There is too much at stake and too much we don’t know.  - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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HPI Video Feed
WTHR-TV: Syrian refugees come to Indiana
WTHR-TV's Mary Milz talks to a Syrian refugee family who just arrived in Indiana.

President Trump's Feb. 16 Press Conference
President Trump's Feb. 16, 2017 White House press conference via Fox News.

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Trump taxes

Should Donald Trump release recent tax returns, like every major party nominee has done over the past 40 years?


 




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