DOUG ROSS: Securing future is vital for bonds, youths

2013-05-31T00:00:00Z DOUG ROSS: Securing future is vital for bonds, youthsDoug Ross doug.ross@nwi.com, (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 nwitimes.com

On June 12, House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President David Long hope to override Gov. Mike Pence's veto of House Enrolled Act 1546.

This legislation would give retroactive approval to a higher income tax rate in Jackson and Pulaski counties. Legislative authority for those higher rates had expired, but the counties kept collecting the money.

Pence saw this as a black-and-white issue.

"If Hoosiers owe taxes, they should pay them," he said in his veto message. "But when Hoosiers pay taxes that are not owed, they deserve relief, and this legislation does not meet that standard."

I understand Pence's concern about collecting taxes when there isn't statutory authority to do so. Ordinarily, I would agree with him.

But these circumstances aren't ordinary. Bosma, Long and I see shades of gray here.

Jackson and Pulaski counties were collecting the taxes, after authority to do so had expired, to pay jail construction bonds. Bondholders must be paid.

This is a situation that has implications for the rest of Indiana. Let one domino fall, and other Hoosier bond ratings will suffer.

That was the rationale behind the special exception for Lake and St. Joseph counties when the property tax caps were put in place. Long-term debt in both counties was so high that immediate tax caps would have put repayment of those bonds in jeopardy. The tax caps were phased in at a slower rate in those counties.

Some opponents of Lake County's new income tax wanted the full tax caps in place immediately this year if the dreaded income tax were approved. But those bonds were sold on the promise that property tax revenue would be sufficient to repay them on time.

I'll use that same rationale to reluctantly support overriding Pence's veto during that special one-day legislative session.

Concern about future consequences is also behind the 2013 Postsecondary Counseling Institute, for school counselors, to be held in Indianapolis next month.

Bill Stanczykiewicz, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, discussed the June 18-19 event during his visit to The Times on Thursday.

Indiana, he said, has the eighth worst ratio in the nation for school counselors to students. That puts extra pressure on those counselors to seek help in addressing students' needs, especially when it comes to postsecondary education.

"We're working to close the information gap — and the aspiration gap," Stanczykiewicz said.

The information gap is telling students about their options and how to achieve them.

The aspiration gap is about not just inspiring students to pursue their dreams, but also to help them get more ambitious dreams.

That's crucial, too, but it's a topic for another day. Until then, send me your ideas on how to inspire students to think about options they don't even know they have.

Editorial Page Editor Doug Ross can be reached at (219) 548-4360 or (219) 933-3357 or Doug.Ross@nwi.com. Follow him at www.facebook.com/doug.ross1 and on Twitter @nwi_DougRoss. The opinions are the writer's.

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