Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 5, 2013

Public Eye - Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013

By Ken de la Bastide and Scott Smith

It’s been tried before

A few years ago then-State Rep. Jim Buck attempted to pass legislation that would have provided more tax dollars to counties that attracted workers from other areas of the state.

The intent was that if a person lived in one county and worked in another, the county where that person is employed should receive a portion of any local income taxes paid.

The premise on its surface makes sense. People coming to Kokomo to work use city streets and city services, but contribute nothing to the city’s revenues. But on the other side of the coin, people who work in Kokomo are probably spending money in local businesses that might not be spent otherwise for food, fuel and general merchandise.

In effect, counties like Howard, Marion, Tippecanoe and Allen would receive higher tax revenues while counties like Tipton, Miami, Cass and Clinton would lose revenue because their residents traveled to another county for employment.

Rep. Mike Karickhoff, a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is introducing legislation that would shift 20 percent of the local income tax revenues to the county where a person actually works.

Karickhoff notes the employee will not pay more in taxes, which is a true statement.

The legislation is sure to be opposed by those lawmakers that represent counties where a large number of their residents travel to another county for employment.

Buck’s attempts at passing similar legislation never received a committee hearing and it would seem likely that Karickhoff’s efforts will face a similar fate.

Indiana lawmakers vote no on fiscal cliff

The majority of Indiana residents in the U.S. House and Senate cast no votes on the legislation that allowed the country to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” last week.

Senators Dan Coats and Richard Lugar were joined by Representatives Joe Donnelly and Andre Carson in voting for the passage of the legislation.

Donnelly, who began his first term in the Senate last week, said he voted for the legislation because it preserved low tax rates for 98 percent of families and 97 percent of small businesses.

Coats said the legislation is not a long term solution and called it round one. He said round two will be upcoming when there is a debate about raising the nation’s debt ceiling.

Republicans Todd Rokita, Mike Pence, Marlin Stutzman, Larry Buschon and Todd Young voted against passage along with Democrat Pete Visclosky.

Rokita said he voted against the legislation because the nation has spending problems and the Senate deal makes it worse.

Pence, who will become Indiana governor later this month, said the legislation didn’t make needed spending cuts.

Outgoing 5th District Congressman Dan Burton didn’t cast a vote. Burton was not alone since six other members of the U.S. House leaving office also didn’t vote on the legislation.

A tongue in cheek membership

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a press release Thursday following the swearing in of Republican Jackie Walorski as the state’s 2nd District representative in the U.S. House.

The release said Walorski was sent a ‘membership’ card for the Tea Party Republican Congress.

“The Tea Party Republican Congress has repeatedly chosen an extreme ideology instead of practical solutions and now Congresswoman Walorski has opted to join them,” Jesse Ferguson of the committee said.

Ferguson said the Tea Party Republican Congress will put millionaires ahead of the middle class and dysfunction ahead of progress.