INDIANAPOLIS | Prioritizing practicality over principle, the anti-tax Indiana General Assembly on Wednesday overrode a veto by Gov. Mike Pence and enacted into law a retroactive income tax increase for residents of two counties.
House Enrolled Act 1546 legalizes extra tax revenue collected by Pulaski County since 2006 and Jackson County since 2011, even though authorization had expired for the higher tax rates used by both counties to pay for their jails.
Pence said he rejected the measure because he believes people who pay taxes they don't owe deserve a refund.
But state Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, the sponsor of the proposal, said the governor's plan to withhold future county income tax collections to pay refunds is impractical, costly and pointless.
"People paid money that they expected to pay in a fair and equitable fashion and received the services of the jails that they intended for their government to provide," Hershman said. "Sustaining this veto will simply add a penalty on an error that was at least partially the fault of state government."
In an odd partisan twist during the Legislature's first-ever technical session, several Democrats, including state Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, urged the Republican Senate and House supermajorities to support the Republican governor.
"We're hoodwinking the taxpayers. We're robbing the taxpayers," Randolph said. "I maintain that we should do the right thing. The governor has recognized that and I give him courage for him vetoing this bill."
The Indiana Constitution requires only a simple majority in both chambers to override a governor's veto.
The override passed the House 68-23 with just one Republican supporting the veto. It cleared the Senate 34-12 with seven Republicans backing the governor.
Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault said following the vote that the first-year governor "regrets" his veto was not upheld and declared the Pence administration "will continue to put taxpayers first."
The nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency estimated the state's cost for the one-day meeting of the 150-member General Assembly was $29,434.