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On April 16, the Indiana General Assembly heard the long-awaited revenue forecast update. "Up" is the right word.
Starting today, the Indiana General Assembly will craft a budget for the state that covers state services from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015, fiscal years 2014 and 2015.
Economics is not an experimental science. We can't say to Congress, "Honorable ladies and gentlemen, please drastically raise taxes and cut spending all at once so we can measure the effects on the economy of changes in the federal government's budget." This is not what elected officials do.
Economics is called the dismal science. I risk my reputation for dismal analysis by writing this, but Indiana's state budget is in pretty good shape. For the first time in years, the General Assembly will have money to work with in next year's budget session.
Indiana has a state income tax. Ninety-one Indiana counties have local income taxes (all but Lake). To make things easier for taxpayers and local governments, the state administers the state and local income taxes together. Taxpayers make one income tax payment, and the state keeps track of …
Each month the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics releases new data on the unemployment rate. January numbers were released on Feb. 3; excitement ensued. The unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a point, to 8.3 percent. That's down from 9 percent in September. Perhaps the recovery is fina…
Just in time for Christmas, or the holiday of your choice, Indiana's Department of Local Government Finance has released its new Gateway data site. It contains a virtual ton of budget and tax information about counties, cities, towns and other local governments. You can see it at https://gat…
The biggest threat to our economy these days comes from Europe. The Greek government borrowed a lot of money that it cannot repay. If Greece defaults the resulting financial crisis could plunge the world back into recession.
What's wrong with the recovery? It's been almost two years since the end of the Great Recession in July 2009. The recession ended in the sense that the economy stopped declining and started growing. But growth has been very slow.
Indiana caps property taxes for taxpayers, at 1 percent of gross assessed value for homesteads, 2 percent for other residential property and farmland, and 3 percent for everything else. The results of this simple system turn out to be pretty complicated, but there are rules of thumb that mak…
After years of gloom in the Indiana State House, this spring saw a ray of light. The April forecast increased revenue projections for the coming biennium budget. That's the first time this has happened since a tiny increase in April 2005. You can see the projections on the Indiana State Budg…
The federal budget deficit is enormous, and the national debt is growing. So the pollsters are asking the public what should be done. The latest poll I've seen was done for NBC and the Wall Street Journal at the end of February. I found it on the Web by searching "NBC deficit poll."
My colleagues in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue tell me this is a good time to be a farmer. Corn and bean prices are high, incomes are up and land values are rising. But into every life a little rain must fall, and every silver lining has a cloud. The very factors that ar…
Does Indiana have a structural budget deficit? In one sense, Indiana doesn't have a deficit at all. We interpret Article 10, Section 5, of our state constitution to mean that the state must have a balanced budget. State balances must be positive at the end of each fiscal year. This requireme…
Indiana had 18 school referendums in the November election. Six passed; 12 were defeated. Why were there so many referendums? And what explains the results?
The Indiana General Assembly has passed a bill to change the formula used to assess farmland for property taxes. Farm assessments -- and tax bills -- will still go up in coming years. Just not as much.
March 14 is Pi Day. That's because pi, the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle, starts with the digits 3.14159. So, March 14, at 1:59 p.m. (or a.m. if you're up) is the appropriate day and minute to celebrate pi.
It's been 20 months since the Indiana General Assembly passed the big property tax reform, back in March 2008. Now, thanks to the Legislative Services Agency, we've got some numbers about how the reforms are working out. You can see the LSA's reports on 2009 property tax bills at http://www.…
I was excited to find my property tax bill in the mail this month. Actually, it said, "not a bill" in big letters across it; the real bill went to my bank.
Is the recession over? Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that it very likely is. And I can almost hear the complaints: "Sure, Bernanke has a job! What about the 15 million people who were unemployed in August? Bet they don't think the recession is over!"
It was June 30, less than 24 hours before the end of the fiscal year, and Indiana still didn't have a budget. The legislative staff had dusted off and expanded a 16-year-old memo on what might happen if the state started a fiscal year without a budget. The Indiana Constitution seems to say t…
The school funding formula was one of the sticking points in this year's state budget debate. To understand why, consider an example.
We're trying to shorten the recession with rapid growth in the money supply and with federal tax cuts and spending increases. But that means, once the recovery is well under way, we'll have two new problems to deal with: the potential for inflation and the consequences of big budget deficits.
It's not election season, but there were four elections in Indiana on May 19. Each was a vote on a school bond issue. Under the new property tax reforms, school corporations and other local governments must get voter approval before they go ahead with big building projects.
We'd been waiting for months, and on April 17, it came: the updated forecast of Indiana state revenues for fiscal years 2009, 2010 and 2011. It was terrible news. Revenues would fall short of the pessimistic December forecast by an additional $831 million for the three years.
You can't open the newspaper these days without reading something like, "This is the (fill in the blank: worst, biggest, first time) since the Great Depression." So people might wonder, will this be another Great Depression?
Indiana's state budget is balanced, and there's money in the bank. But is it enough if we have a recession? To know that we have to look at the numbers.
The big new tax reform law passed by the Indiana General Assembly in March adds a new feature to the process of setting local taxes. At least 15 days before budgets are adopted, all the nonschool governments in a county must submit their proposed budgets, tax levies and tax rates to the Coun…
Two of the priorities for Indiana's new property tax reforms were to make property tax relief permanent and to deliver tax relief now, in 2008. Taxes in 2008 and 2009 will be lower than they were in 2007. But in some counties, the tax reform will deliver more relief in 2008 than in 2009. Som…
We've got property tax reform -- the biggest, most important reform in Indiana local government finance since 1973, at least. And we've got a whole lot of questions about how these reforms are going to work. Here's what we're going to do.
The property tax crisis was upon us. The General Assembly offered counties three new local income taxes options, two of which directly reduced property taxes. The taxes seemed to be just what was needed.
Homeowner property taxes are going up in Indiana. But how do they compare to property taxes in other states? Here's some evidence.
Tax bills arrived. Homeowners were shocked. The statewide average increase in homeowner property tax bills is expected to be 24 percent, before the end-of-year rebates. The increases were larger in Indianapolis. Taxpayers protested.
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