Welcome study of local taxes
Next year, Indiana governments will mark the 40th anniversary of using local income taxes. LOITs have become increasingly important to city and county budgeting, and their current use to ease the burden of property taxes will only increase that importance.
The LOIT system has also become more complex, making it hard for taxpayers to understand what they’re paying and where the money goes. So the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute and the Indiana University Public Policy Institute have issued a report on the state of the system and suggested areas for policy discussions. The General Assembly should heed that suggestion.
Some of the suggested-at changes made in the report are obvious needs. Some are less so, and some are problematic. But it’s never a bad idea for discussions that can clarify the issues for voters and taxpayers.
Encouraging freedom flickers
During President Obama’s unprecedented trip to Burma – the first-ever visit to that country by an American chief executive – there were a few verbal miscues. Obama called President Thein Sein “President Sein,” an awkward, overly familiar reference that most Burmese would cringe at. He mispronounced that name of opposition leader and Nobel Peace Price laureate Aung San Suu Kyi several times. And he referred to the nation as Myanmar, the name arbitrarily chosen by the military junta 23 years ago, rather than Burma, the name still favored by dissidents and pro-democracy advocates and the “official” name recognized by the U.S.
But he got one thing right: The repression of the people of Burma has started to give way to “flickers of progress” that must become a shining star and “must not be extinguished.”
Be careful with tax cut
Republican Gov.-elect Mike Pence has experienced a tough political truth, one he may have known but forgotten somewhere along the line:
What you promise taxpayers is one thing. What you can actually deliver is quite another.
Pence made a 10 percent income tax cut a major pledge of his gubernatorial campaign. But now the two top legislative Republicans – House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long – are expressing serious doubts that the cut can or should be made. The government’s economic future, they argue, is not as certain or as rosy as the state’s $2 billion surplus might lead one to suppose.
The cut would reduce tax revenue by $500 million a year at a time when financial pressure is being felt from a number of sources.
A lesson in being thankful
Many Americans seem to be in an unnecessary panic over the possible demise of Twinkies and Ding Dongs if the Hostess Brands bakery goes under. Even though talks between the company and union failed, it is probable somebody will pick up those signature snacks at the bankruptcy sale. Twinkies will survive if some enterprising capitalist decides there is a reasonable profit to be made and a realistic chance to make it.
That “reasonable profit” part is Economics 101, but apparently a mystery to members of the unions that seemed intent on striking themselves out of their jobs. For many reasons, it was getting harder to make that profit. The unions had cooperated with management before, but, ironically, their patience may have run out just when it was needed most. “Lousy jobs with a company that doesn’t love us” are far better than “no jobs.”
Don't discount reform just yet
Nothing like losing an election to have everybody turn on you. Indiana Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett was widely hailed as the architect of the “most aggressive, far-reaching school reform package in the nation.” Now he’s on his way out after losing to Democrat Glenda Ritz, and The Associated Press remarks on “the ouster of an official widely regarded as a national champion of conservative education policy.” And the Indiana Supreme Court is being asked to invalidate the state’s voucher program, largest in the nation and “a centerpiece of a conservative education overhaul.”
Yeah, no bad public schools here. No need for reform. It’s just those silly conservatives with their wild, extremist ideas. No wonder Bennett was booted. Move along, move along, nothing to see here.