Governor Calls A Special Session To Focus On Taxes, School Safety

first_imgGovernor Calls A Special Session To Focus On Taxes, School SafetyMarch 21, 2018  By Abrahm HurtTheStatehouseFile.comINDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Monday that he will call a special session of the Indiana General Assembly to address the school safety and tax issues left unfinished in the disorganized end of the 2018 session last week.It would be the first special session in a non-budget year since 2002, Holcomb said, but necessary to complete the work.“In essence, what we’ll be doing is putting some time back on the clock,” Holcomb said. “As you know, many of these items, obviously these items, were on their way to passage, and would have signed them all but we ran out of time.”One of the more chaotic moves came when, as the clock clicked closer to midnight March 14, the official end of the session, Holcomb was asked by House and Senate leaders to extend it by one hour, to 1 a.m. Thursday.After Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson objected, President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, relented and at 12:10 a.m. the Senate adjourned. Bills that included additional money for school safety, autonomous vehicles and the state takeover of the Gary and Muncie school corporations died.Holcomb said he was told by House and Senate leaders that he had the authority to take that action.When asked why Republicans, who hold supermajorities in both the House and the Senate, could not complete their business before the deadline, Holcomb said, “Your guess is as good as mine.”Holcomb said he wants the special session to be limited in scope, such as adding $5 million to the Indiana Secured School Fund, allowing school corporations to get extra money for school safety and providing the Muncie School Corporation a $12 million loan.House Bill 1230 included $5 million for school safety Holcomb had requested from legislators. As the clock ticked down to midnight on the final day of the session, lawmakers rushed to finish committee reports in time for a vote on the floor but failed to do so.“It is what it is. We ran out of time,” Holcomb said. “But the beauty of our system is we can fix this, and we can do it in short order.”Holcomb also said he wants the General Assembly to update the state’s tax code to conform with changes in the federal tax law.The Chamber of Commerce said if the legislature fails to address the changes, Hoosier companies would have to file their taxes twice—once for the state and once for the federal level.“For smaller-sized businesses, that could mean another $1,000-$1,500 and for the larger ones, considerably more for internal staff time and/or outside accounting expertise,” the organization said in a news release. “In total, the compliance cost could easily be north of $100 million.”When asked about the cost of bringing back legislators for the special session, Holcomb could not give an exact number but his office has estimated it could reach $30,000 a day.“Whatever the cost is, is dwarfed by the cost of inaction,” he said.Lanane released a statement saying the public should not have to spend $30,000 a day for a special session.“There is absolutely no reason the Republican supermajority couldn’t get all of these bills, some of which enjoyed bipartisan support, passed on time,” he said in a press release. “It was internal bickering within the Republican caucuses that held everything up until the last minute causing them to run out of time.”Long said the Senate will support his decision.“We will be efficient and focused, and are committed to collaborating with our colleagues in the House and with the governor to act in the best interest of Hoosiers,” he said in a statement.House Minority leader Terry Goodin, D-Austin, said the only reason there should be a special session is to address the problems with the Department of Child Services.“It should be everyone’s priority to protect the lives of at-risk children,” he said in a press release. “During the session, the Republicans chose to do nothing, hiding under the guise of waiting for a private consultant to tell us what we already know: there’s a lot that’s wrong with DCS.”Holcomb called for a review of DCS in January after the agency’s former director, Mary Beth Bonaventura, resigned and said children are at risk because of a lack of funding. A review by the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group will publish its full findings by June 21.Holcomb said he thought that problems with DCS can wait until next year’s session.Holcomb said he would meet with leaders from the House and the Senate later this week to talk about the agenda, which might include additional items lawmakers might add.FOOTNOTE:  Abrahm Hurt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img

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