SCHERERVILLE │ U.S. Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, provided a legislative update Friday to members of the Lake County Advancement Committee during its monthly meeting at Teibel’s Family Restaurant.
Slager touched on the hot topics of the recent session such as the South Shore extension.
“Part of this train is we see a major motive for extending the funding for the Regional Development Authority,” he said.
Slager said the RDA was born with the Major Moves leasing of the Indiana Toll Road, and it’s been nine years now. In another year the $10 million that comes to Lake County that’s given to the RDA will come to an end.
“There are a number of projects we still want to keep moving forward on,” he said. “The airport has seen a fair amount of that money, and it’s probably the diamond in the rough of all of Lake County, and what can have significant economic impact. Short of that, this railroad is the absolute next best thing to provide economic output for all of us.”
Slager said there are those who will argue that why spend all that money to export people to jobs in Chicago.
“I don’t see it that way,” he said. “I think we are going to be importing residents who are already working in Chicago. I think we are going to be creating a greater demand for people of all ages to live here, particularly young people. We will raise property values and that’s really the ultimate goal.”
Slager also talked about the business personal property tax issue and that it was always meant to be a county opt-in.
“But the more I thought about the opt-in position, the less I liked it,” he said.
“The idea of taking away a significant amount of tax revenue through the business personal property tax was a great concern. Never mind the fact all my communities sent resolutions saying, 'Please do not vote for this.'”
Slager said he’s philosophically on board that the tax needs to go. But “we have to do it in such a way that we’re not putting our municipalities in a trick bag.”
“We ended up with a bill that doesn’t go into effect until July 2015 that I’m philosophically in favor of but logistically I think it doesn’t make sense.”
Slager said he will go attend a blue ribbon commission this summer to nail it down before it goes into effect. He said the point of voting against it was to send a message and hopes during the commission many issues of his concern are brought up and improvements will be made to it.
“We’ll make this so Lake County can legitimately participate and our existing industry can benefit from it and we’ll come up with a bill in the next session that hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to vote on,” he said.