As expected, Gov. Mitch Daniels is getting all kinds of advice from numerous quarters on how to solve Indiana’s property tax crisis.The temptation to do something, anything, amid a crescendo of protest from Hoosiers facing double-digit increases in property tax bills is apparent.
And it runs almost as deeply as the determination by many of these “problem-solvers” to protect their own turf, their own narrow self-interest, even if that means — as it has long meant — making the other guy pay more.
So, it might be best to reject the bad ideas — of which there are many — in search of eventual agreement on better ideas.
And one of the worst among the bad ideas is to dip into Indiana’s budget surplus to provide property owners with tax relief.
Many House Republicans like the idea. So does House Speaker Patrick Bauer, a Democrat from South Bend. They would take at least $100 million, or about 40 percent, of the state’s budget surplus and it apply it to property tax relief.
Bipartisan agreement is not always all that it is cracked up to be. The idea is a wretched one, half-baked by legislators on both sides of the aisle who seem to place their own political survival above the long-term better interests of the state.
Indiana’s Constitution requires a balanced budget. One of Mitch Daniels’ most important contributions since becoming governor was obeying the law, an example every politicians would do well to emulate.
Indiana on Daniels’ watch went from budget deficits of more than $200 million to surpluses exceeding $200 million. And those surpluses have made it possible for the state to begin implementing important programs, like all-day kindergarten statewide, which represents an important step in the state’s future economic growth.
Daniels should make clear that he will veto any “answer” that involves increasing the risk of deficit spending. Transferring surplus funds to property tax relief is just a misguided answer.
By speaking clearly and correctly on this issue, the governor actually makes the legislators’ difficult job easier by taking one of the bad ideas off the table entirely, leaving fewer alternatives for them to bicker over.
And, as we have noted before, simplicity combined with fairness and firmness is the only real long-term way out of the property tax fiasco.