Porter: ‘Hoosiers deserve fiscal policy that supports working families’
INDIANAPOLIS - The most recent State revenue forecast in April of 2021 showed a surplus of $2.4 billion, with an additional $400 million in revenues in the last three months.
What follows is an op-ed written by State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), ranking Democrat on the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, responding to recent comments from House Republicans implying they will be pursuing tax cuts in the next legislative session. Porter suggests the General Assembly should provide tax relief focused on providing relief to everyday Hoosier families, not wealthier individuals or large corporations in our State:
Existing policies have produced a surplus that even Republicans admit is much too high. It is time to enact new policies that produce a well-balanced budget and put money back into the hands of hard-working Hoosiers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented set of circumstances that have created a shift in our economy. The General Assembly must work to create policies that will support the majority of Hoosiers and their changing needs in light of the effects of the pandemic. Previous policies have given generous tax breaks to the wealthy and large corporations. New policies should be friendlier to working families who are the backbone of the State's economy.
As Indiana's economy struggles to return to normal, the legislature must provide solutions that will allow Hoosiers to return to work by providing housing security, student-debt relief, affordable child care and high-quality education. Despite the massive influx of federal dollars and sizeable surplus, everyday Hoosiers have yet to reap the benefits of this additional funding.
As the legislature works to craft policies that reflect a changing economy, proposals should include:
- Increasing the State Earned Income Tax Credit rate from the current 10% of the Federal amount to 15%. Our neighboring state Illinois currently has an 18% match rate.
- Increase the Renter's Deduction from the decade-long $3,000 to $5,000 to keep up with higher inflation-driven rents. Renters are not eligible for any homeowners' benefits like the Homestead Credit, Mortgage Deduction or Property Tax Caps.
- Student Loan Interest Deduction should create a higher deduction for those with lower incomes and higher undergraduate debt loads.
- Create a Dependent Care and Child Tax Deduction like our neighboring states Kentucky and Ohio have implemented.
- Double the Individual Income Tax Deduction for Lower Income Families by modeling the policy after the federal exemption. Because there have been no changes to this rate in recent history, adjustments that reflect inflation are long overdue.
- Apply the School Supply Tax Deduction to public school students. Currently, only voucher and private school students receive this deduction, even though public school student families have the same challenges purchasing school supplies. After creating the largest voucher program in the nation in the 2021 session at the cost of public school funding, it is only fair to allow ALL students to benefit from this deduction.
It’s time to question why the supermajority creates policy that benefits the wealthy and creates an egregious state surplus. It is cruel to hold this excess funding hostage while working-class Hoosiers continue to struggle to meet everyday needs. We should not forget these huge surplus numbers were built on providing fewer resources for the people of Indiana during a global pandemic and the resulting economic struggle. I plan to remain steadfast to ensure this once-in-a-lifetime influx of additional federal dollars and state surplus make it into the hands of Hoosiers that need it most.