INDIANAPOLIS | The Indiana General Assembly's Republican supermajorities hate taxes and government regulation -- except when they don't -- and in two weeks they'll have to decide whether to re-approve a retroactive tax hike they easily passed the first time around.
Republican Gov. Mike Pence vetoed House Enrolled Act 1546 and called the retroactive approval of a higher income tax rate in Jackson and Pulaski counties improper. Both counties collected revenue at the higher rate to fund jail construction bonds even though authorization to do so had expired.
"If Hoosiers owe taxes, they should pay them. But when Hoosiers pay taxes that are not owed, they deserve relief, and this legislation does not meet that standard," Pence said in his veto message.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, disagree. They've scheduled a one-day meeting of the Legislature on June 12 to try to override Pence's veto.
"The problems associated with the veto, if it stands, will be immense," Long said.
Long noted it would be almost impossible for the counties to refund the extra income tax collections in any timely way. Long also said the state's bond rating could suffer if the counties default on loan payments.
Approval by a simple majority in both chambers is needed to override the governor's veto and enact the measure into law. The legislation was initially passed 98-0 in the House and 48-1 by the Senate.
It was one of three measures vetoed by the first-year governor. He also rejected proposals to require state licensing of anesthesiologist assistants and diabetes educators along with state certification of dietitians and music therapists.
Despite the Republican-dominated majorities that approved Senate Enrolled Act 273 and House Enrolled Act 1242, Pence said he believes the state ought to have fewer professional licenses, not more.
"Less regulation will mean more jobs for Hoosiers," Pence said.
Bosma and Long said those vetoes will not be on the June 12 legislative agenda but will be considered in the normal course of business next year.
House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said he thinks Pence used his vetoes to show legislative Republicans, who often say one thing but do another on taxes and regulations, that he will not go along with proposals if they conflict with his own anti-tax, anti-regulation positions.
"That's one of the governor's few opportunities to render judgments on some things that happened in the session. It's a chance to talk about things," Pelath said.