ELKHART — Gov. Mike Pence’s plan to eliminate the business personal property tax will most likely end up in a summer study committee, according to several lawmakers who attended a public meeting in Elkhart on Saturday morning, Feb. 22.
Some lawmakers who attended the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce legislative meeting Saturday indicated they believe the plan was too big of a change to be considered in a short session of the General Assembly. Another suggested the state’s fragile financial situation presents another reason to wait to consider such a move.
“The governor’s proposal of full elimination is not moving forward. That is dead,” said State Rep. David Ober, who represents District 82.
The House and Senate have significantly different versions of the proposal as the General Assembly enters its final few weeks of work.
Earlier this week, a key Republican leader hinted it might be best to study the issue further during the summer.
Pence’s plan has caused a wave of concern among many cities, towns, counties and schools because of the anticipated significant loss in tax revenues. In Elkhart County, numerous taxing units have offered a unified voice of opposition to the plan unless other revenue sources could be found to make up for the loss.
Ober and Rep. Tim Neese, District 48, predicted it will ultimately end up being sent to a summer committee.
Rep. Tim Wesco, District 21, was less certain but said “a study committee seems to be gaining momentum.”
None of the Republicans voiced support for any of the current plans. Wesco said there is talk of finding replacement revenues, but no concrete specifics have been identified.
State Sen. Joe Zakas, District 11, added, “The governor’s plan just costs too much right now.”
According to one assessment that looked at the impact of one of the current plans, the city of Elkhart would lose $314,614 in revenues in the first year if implemented while Elkhart Community Schools would see a $166,000 reduction. Elkhart County would lose $145,312.
The entire county could face a decrease of about $1.25 million, the state analysis indicated.
Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore renewed his opposition to the tax cut, saying Goshen and Elkhart city councils joined Elkhart County officials as well as Elkhart Community Schools to stand “shoulder to shoulder, saying not another dime, not another dollar, without full replacement.”
Neese said he wants the General Assembly to look at the issue more thoroughly.
“I thought there was a lack of communication from the beginning,” Neese said. “There’s three different versions of this bill. The governor’s, the House and the Senate. That underscores why it should go to a summer study committee.”