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[r29] Column: A look back at moving forward
Start Date: 3/19/2014Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 3/19/2014
Entry Description
A look back at moving forward

The 2014 legislative session has now come to a close, and I am happy to report that it was a successful three months. Going into session, we had five key goals: cutting taxes, equipping our workforce, connecting crossroads to communities, preparing kids for their careers and stopping burdensome regulations. Here is how we were able to deliver on these promises.

On the tax front, we passed legislation that gives local governments the option to exempt the business personal property tax (BPPT) for small businesses that file for less than $20,000 annually. By giving counties the option to exempt this tax, we are providing counties with additional tools to attract out of state employers and stimulate small business growth.

The BPPT is assessed on equipment that is required to run a business like computers, phones, furniture, machinery, etc. While Indiana has one of the best business climates in the country, the BPPT discourages economic investments and capital improvements. Not to mention, we are at a competitive disadvantage because all of our neighboring states either have a lower BPPT rate or don’t tax it all. Offering counties the option of removing the tax keeps Indiana competitive with neighboring states and attracts businesses looking to relocate. 

We evaluated other tax rates as well and are continuing to phase down the state’s corporate tax and financial institutions tax. Both of these rates would be lowered to 4.9 percent by 2022 with the corporate tax being the second lowest in the country.

This tax reform package is undoubtedly focused around building jobs, but it takes a multipronged approach to create and sustain growth. We took steps to bolster our workforce development efforts, so more Hoosiers can have the skills and be properly trained to meet the growing demands of the 21st century marketplace. We did this by providing incentives to employers who partner with educational institutions and offer students valuable internships and apprenticeships in high demand, high wage fields. Students participating in these programs will be able to spend half their time in the classroom and the remainder of their time putting what they learned to the test in the real-world. Students will learn more and gain a deeper understanding of their industry, and companies will have a pipeline of qualified workers that can fill the ranks; a win-win.

Jobs are also hugely dependent on infrastructure, and as the Crossroads of America, we continued to support investments that will get critical state projects up and running. More than $500 billion worth of goods were transported on Indiana roadways last year. We have growing industries in logistics and distribution because of our geographic proximity to other major markets and our expansive transportation network. It is vital that we ensure the safety of our roadways and keep up with the demands. 

Thanks to strong fiscal leadership in the Legislature and governor’s office, we were able to allocate up to $400 million, which was already set aside last year for future projects, to be used now for current needs. By using this money, Indiana will be eligible for more than $1.6 billion in federal dollars. This will support tens of thousands of jobs and lead to a better, safer transportation network for our state.

At the heart of everything that makes this state successful is our education system and ensuring Hoosier students are equipped and prepared to lead in the future. A strong foundation and a good start to a student’s academics has lasting positive impacts, which is why we supported a preschool pilot program for low-income Hoosiers this year. Students who come from families that are at or below 127 percent of the federal poverty level would be able to attend high-quality preschool programs. A study committee has been commissioned as well, and we will continue to evaluate the program moving forward as we assess the state’s education system.

The final key point of our agenda was to remove burdensome regulations. Through the Government Reduction Committee established in 2010, we have cut 40 boards and commissions and over 400 government appointments. This year, we continued the good work and did an in-depth review of the Indiana Code, streamlining government by eliminating duplicative code, red tape and layers of bureaucracy. A smaller, limited government is more efficient and effective in delivering services to Hoosiers.

I am proud of what we have accomplished this year, especially during a short session. Indiana has made a lot of headlines recently as the unemployment rate continues to decrease and more businesses break ground here. The measures passed this year will only add to those achievements and strengthen our state. 

-30-

Representative Kathy Kreag Richardson (R-Noblesville)
Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: (317) 232-9831
Email: nicholas.goodwin@iga.in.gov
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