INDIANAPOLIS | State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, was unable to persuade the Senate Monday to let Gary, East Chicago, Hammond and Lake County keep a portion of their casino revenue that could be sent next year to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.
Senate Bill 367, which is set for a Senate vote Tuesday to forward it to the House, closes a Lake County income tax loophole that has allowed homeowners with more than $18,000 in annual income to claim a $300 tax credit intended to help low-income homeowners with their property taxes.
The legislation directs the $4 million a year saved by closing the loophole to the RDA.
Rogers said since the state is reimbursed for the tax credit using local casino admission tax revenue, the casino cities and the county should decide where the money goes once the tax credit is fixed.
"Is the role of the General Assembly to appropriate city and county dollars?" Rogers asked. "This is money collected in Lake County and should remain in Lake County and go through the appropriations process at the local level, exactly like other dollars raised at the local level."
State Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, said since the RDA already is funded mostly by region casino tax revenue, it makes sense to direct these funds to the RDA as well.
"The money that's being generated up there will be staying locally, it's just a matter of who gets to expend it," Hershman said. "This will help ensure the continued viability of the RDA."
Rogers' proposal to change the legislation by giving the money to the casino cities and Lake County was defeated on an unrecorded voice vote.