The Journal Gazette
Sunday, December 19, 2021 1:00 am

Political notebook

GOP leaders disagree on state tax cut

DEVAN FILCHAK and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Turns out “opening the budget” isn't as clear cut as you would think.

As legislators last week received news of a boon in state tax revenues, House Republicans began pushing for a tax cut in 2022.

But Senate Republicans would prefer to wait until the next budget is up for discussion – in January 2023.

Indiana passes a two-year budget in odd-numbered years. And traditionally the legislature avoids “opening the budget” in the even-numbered, short session year. 

But now there are billions of new dollars predicted, which is opening up possibilities.

Standing side-by-side doing an interview with Statehouse reporters, Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen, and Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, made clear they have different ideas about what opening the budget means.

The two chair their respective budget committees and are the fiscal stewards of each chamber.

Mishler – who wants to wait – said cutting taxes or spending additional dollars on programs would be opening the budget.

“We have to keep in mind that this is a non-budget year, and typically we do not open the budget. When you start doing that, then you're basically going to be doing a budget ever year,” he said. “We have a year to talk about this.”

But Brown said a tax cut wouldn't open the budget – it would simply be “decreasing the revenues that come in.”

Tempers flare in council venue shift

The Allen County Council conducted its monthly meeting in a different room Thursday after an argument between two council members during the November meeting.

Councilman Paul Lagemann and Councilwoman Sheila Curry-Campbell last month spoke over each other with raised voices multiple times during the last five minutes of the meeting that was conducted in the discussion room. The heated discussion occurred over Lagemann's proposal to hire a county grant writer.

Council President Kyle Kerley said he didn't think the disagreement would have escalated if the council were in the more formal meeting room at Citizens Square.

In the discussion room, the members were seated next to one another and could speak more openly. In the other meeting room, all members are spread out and seated facing the audience, which Kerley said is designed to have members communicate only to the president rather than to other members.

The County Council met in the more formal meeting room Thursday instead of the adjoining discussion room, and Robert's Rules of Order appeared to be followed.

The content of meetings can also contribute to high tension, Kerley said.

“I don't think there's any animosity, really,” he said in November. “It's just that people get on edge when there's contentious issues, and it builds up over the course of a meeting.”

Candidate vows 'original purposes'

Grabill native Stan Jones last week announced his candidacy for Indiana House District 85 in Allen County.

The new district covers the county's eastern and southern portions.

Jones says he is an “independent conservative” seeking election in the May Republican primary and wants the district to have an informed and involved representative “not indebted to outside corporate interests or the handmaid of entrenched party strivings.”

He supports term limits for lawmakers similar to those in executive positions. And he also noted the large fuel tax burden on Indiana residents. Current Rep. Dave Heine, R-Fort Wayne, voted for a gas tax increase in 2017.

Jones criticized Heine as “aloof” in a news release. If elected, Jones said he will “prioritize review, re-evaluation and reform of the segments of our state government which have veered away from their original purposes.” In any close call, Jones said, he “will always fall on the side of personal liberty and away from counterproductive lockdowns and mandates.”

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