House leader considers income tax cut amid optimistic budget forecasts
When it comes to pushing for state tax cuts and limits on employer vaccine mandates, Republicans in the Indiana House of Representatives are taking the lead.
IBJ asked the top House Republican, Speaker Todd Huston de Fishers, why his caucus put these issues high on its agenda and why he has been more aggressive than Senate Republicans in his pursuit.
Divergent views on tax cuts became clear after a state budget forecast released last week showed the budget surplus could reach $ 5.1 billion by the end of June.
Republican House leaders said the nascent surplus gave them even more reason to cut taxes, while GOP Senate leaders urged caution over fears inflation could slow consumer spending and the collection of sales taxes.
Here’s what Huston had to say about how this issue and others might play out once the Legislature meets on January 4.
What specific tax cuts do you envision now that you have a better idea of the revenue that will flow from them?
Mine, for me, was income tax. I think that’s the one I’m staring at. How to keep lowering income taxes? I think there are business taxes around businesses, personal property taxes that give us some flexibility to adjust. … The advantage of giving money back to Hoosiers is that it will end up in our own communities, it will end up in our own economy. And I’m really excited about it. I think the best way to do that is to try to do as much as possible in personal income tax.
In terms of reducing corporate property taxes, what can be done to compensate for the potential loss of income that local communities are concerned about?
My commitment to them is that we are not going to talk about reducing this tax on their backs. And they exchanged ideas with us, we exchanged ideas with them on different proposals, and we will continue to work on it. I mean, they’re in the same boat. You know, they have a lot of income themselves. So, you know, they have to think about it collectively. We all need to think about how we make sure we create a great business environment for Indiana? We work in partnership with them on the READI [regional economic development] grants, super excited about this, and we’re going to partner with that as well.
The Senate does not appear to be on the same wavelength with tax cuts. How do you intend to have the legislation adopted by this chamber?
We have a great working relationship with [Senate President Pro Tem Rodric] Bray, [Senate Appropriations Chair] Ryan Mishler. They are good friends, people I love to work with. [House Ways and Means Chairman] Tim Brown and I will continue to have these conversations. I know we share so many the same philosophies, maybe a slight disagreement on the timing. But look, I mean, the revenue forecast has shown that we have an abundance of resources. We must be wise. We have to be careful. But i think no [cut taxes] that would also be a mistake.
Change the subject to House Bill 1001, why adopt a quick timetable to place limits on employers’ vaccination mandates in the first week of the session?
We have heard from many employers and many of our constituents who want protections in this area. We recognize that there are several elements, as you know, in Bill 1001, some dealing with a vaccine mandate, others [dealing] with all the things that can suppress… the public health emergency. We believe that acting quickly makes a lot of sense. We continue to work on the issues that continue to be discussed, and if we can do it within this time frame, look, it’s a short session. I was clear to our caucus: we are going to come in and we are going to get to work right away. …
We’re going to have to move a lot of stuff the first and second week because it’s a short session. And, and so that’s a lot of it, but again, great conversations happen with a bunch of different stakeholder groups trying to get to the right place.
Is it the government’s job to intervene on this business issue, not going so far as to force or ban mandates but essentially set rules if a private employer wants to demand the COVID-19 vaccine?
Some of the professional organizations have brought their concerns to us and we are trying to resolve them. But I also want to note that there are a lot of companies that have reached out to us, individual members, or me personally, that were like, “You know, look, we have supply chain issues, we have issues. employment issues and we need clarity on that if we are to protect our people. But we don’t want to get stuck between a federal mandate and a lack of workers either. So, you know, it’s a complex thing. We will continue to work with our business community on this.
Is the Senate on the same page with the rapid passage of HB 1001? Is there a disagreement on this?
I do not want to speak for Senator Bray in the Senate. I know they hear the same things we hear, and they solve problems. I’m sure they’ll have time, and we’ll talk about it in caucus. So you know what a timeline [do] they act on? To be honest with you, I’m not sure.
You’ve said before that marijuana will not be legalized this year, but Gov. Eric Holcomb recently said he would be in favor of passing a law to put in place a regulatory system in case marijuana does. legalized federally or later in Indiana. . Would you be for this legislation?
I will review each bill and assign each bill to committee. I kind of made my feelings known and I also told people that if they can provide me with compelling evidence as to why this is good public policy, we will continue to have these conversations. I’m interested in hearing more of these conversations, but so far, you know, I’ve kind of stayed where I am. … I know, we’re going to have members tabling bills on this subject, and they’ll have to be assigned to a committee. But, you know, for me it’s always been about, I just want to get to what I think is good public policy. •