NWI lawmakers back special session for extra tax refund, Democrats call for more action – Chicago Tribune

Northwest Indiana lawmakers are backing a special session to give taxpayers an extra refund, but Democratic lawmakers are asking Gov. Eric Holcomb to also consider different approaches to help taxpayers as inflation rises.

Last week, Holcomb announced a plan to return $1 billion in state reserves to taxpayers following higher-than-expected revenues, meaning taxpayers could receive an additional $225 through automatic taxpayer refunds. of State.

Taxpayers currently receive $125 through the state’s automatic taxpayer refund, which means that in total, each eligible Hoosier would receive about $350 and a married couple filing jointly would receive $700, according to a news release.

“The Hoosiers have real needs right now during this time of high inflation, from the gas pump to the grocery store, and everyone stands to benefit from the state’s success,” Holcomb said in the statement.

Holcomb said he met with House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, and Senate Speaker Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, to ask them to meet with the legislature about “this second set of statements.” through Taxpayer Reimbursement and to call a special session before the end of June.

Sen. Michael Griffin, D-Highland, said in a statement that taxpayer refunds are somewhat helpful but transitional.

“I’m afraid they offer a seemingly attractive measure but won’t offer any long-term satisfaction,” Griffin said. “The fact is that with the general increase in the cost of goods and services, it will mean pennies for families in difficulty. Suspending the gasoline tax would bring real and lasting relief to millions of people.

Griffin wrote to Holcomb asking him to suspend the gasoline tax or convene the legislature to discuss suspending the gasoline tax in response to the announcement of the additional $225 tax refund.

“I greatly respect the sentiment behind this call – I strongly believe that the surplus accumulated by our taxpayers should be reinvested in them. Unfortunately, I fear that this assistance will prove insufficient,” Griffin wrote.

In Lake County, the $225 rebate would buy about 2.5 tanks of gas for an average car, Griffin wrote, and a tax rebate would exclude cities, counties, small businesses and non-profit organizations. aid non-profit entities that would benefit from a temporary gas shutdown. tax.

Griffin, the former clerk-treasurer of the Highlands, wrote that a reliable estimate is that a four-month suspension of petrol taxes would cost between $592 million and $597 million. Meanwhile, in the first 10 months of the budget cycle, revenue exceeding budget needs is $865 million, Griffin wrote.

“We have the ability and the opportunity to save real money in Hoosiers while keeping local communities and their infrastructure harmless, retaining nearly $300 million in excess revenue and without touching budget requirements by course of Indiana,” Griffin wrote.

In a statement, Griffin said even before the recent spike in inflation, families across the state were struggling as the state sat on billions in taxpayer dollars and federal funding, which exceeded the State’s required reserves.

“Hoarding is not a viable economic strategy or model of fiscal management – ​​true stewardship of public resources means investing in Hoosiers by reducing the day-to-day costs of things like education, health care and childcare. so they can get through tough times like these,” Griffin said.

State Representative Michael Aylesworth, R-Heborn, said in a statement that issuing another automatic taxpayer refund “will provide relief from rising inflation.”

“It’s the right thing to do at a time when the price of basic necessities has skyrocketed. I look forward to working alongside my fellow lawmakers to provide this much-needed relief,” Aylesworth said.

With rising prices for groceries, gas, energy bills and other necessities, taxpayers should get relief, State Representative Julie Olthoff said. R-Crown Point, in a statement.

“That’s why I fully support the Governor’s call for a special session to provide statewide relief. Our revenue and surplus continue to exceed forecasts, giving us the opportunity to put more money back in the pockets of Hoosiers,” Olthoff said.

Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, said in a statement that he supports all efforts to relieve Hoosiers as costs rise, but he would also like to see the legislature pass gun safety legislation.

“Preventable gun violence devastates our communities just as much as economic hardship, and we must act. Adopting an agenda to address gun violence during this special session is key to protecting Hoosiers from the senseless gun violence that typically increases during the summer,” Melton said.

If cleared in the special session, Melton said his officer is prepared to propose meaningful legislation to repeal the Unlicensed Transportation Act which will take effect July 1.

“For my community and those like mine across the state, this issue requires a sense of urgency from all lawmakers, and I hope we can make progress in this important area during the session. amazing,” Melton said.

State Representative Vernon Smith, D-Gary, said he supports convening a special session to discuss reimbursement. Given the state’s surplus, taxpayers should get some money back, he said.

“I think we should stop taxing at the rate we’re charging, so we should give the money back,” Smith said. “It all came from pressure from the Democrats.”

In March, House and Senate Democrats proposed suspending state gasoline taxes — which are 56 cents a gallon this month — until July, which Republicans rejected. Additionally, Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, offered to use the surplus to give Hoosiers an additional tax refund.

“The Hoosiers are hurting now and have been hurting since March, when the Legislative Democrats first made our call for economic relief,” Porter said. “While I’m glad Governor Holcomb and the Legislative Republicans have finally answered our calls to return their money to Hoosiers, I can only hope it’s not too little, too late.”

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