Chesterton | Only a handful of people showed up at a town hall meeting hosted by State Senator Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, Saturday afternoon in Chesterton, but the group learned a lot about current legislative action in Indianapolis.
Tallian, along with State Representative Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, reviewed health care initiatives, business tax cuts and minimum wage proposals.
Governor Mike Pence’s proposal to eliminate business personal property tax would cost local government and schools more than $1 billion in revenue, including $30 million in Porter County, Tallian said.
“All the money does not go downstate,” said Tallian. “It remains in every county. Big manufacturing places would be hit a lot harder because we all rely on that money.”
However, Tallian said the governor’s proposal has been “pretty much canned by Republicans and Democrats all over the state,” and each house has introduced its own version of the bill.
Tallian said the second part of the governor’s proposal is to reduce Indiana’s corporate income tax rate from 6.5 percent in 2015 to 4.9 percent in 2019.
“The debate clearly is what are we getting for the cut,” said Tallian. “Local government and school systems are being starved. We want to bring new businesses and new people into the state, but at the same time, we’re cutting all kinds of services.”
Chesterton resident Joe Jimenez took issue with the proposal.
“If they keep messing with our tax structure, we’ll never get out of the hole,” said Jimenez.
Moseley pointed out that although the state’s reported unemployment rate is 7.9 percent, the figure is deceiving.
“The average family income dropped by $8,000, and we keep going down,” said Moseley. “People on unemployment who were beyond their 26 weeks extension were kicked off the rolls, so they aren’t counted anymore.”
Tallian said she offered an amendment that would have expanded Medicaid healthcare coverage to 400,000 residents who are “the working poor.”
“They are making minimum wage, do not have healthcare coverage through their employer, and can’t afford an insurance policy,” said Tallian. “I thought we could get somewhere with this, but I got shut down.”
One meeting participant questioned a proposal to raise the minimum wage.
“Indiana will never raise the minimum wage until the fed raises the minimum wage,” said Tallian. “But sometimes we file bills because we need to make a statement and start a conversation. That was our response to the business tax cuts.”