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Property taxpayers need relief now

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Like most Hoosiers, I understand the importance of property taxes and other taxes as a way to fund infrastructure projects, schools and community needs. However, an alarming number of Hoosiers are now struggling to pay their taxes, and this requires us to take a step back and reassess how we can best help our constituents.

This year, residents can expect their property taxes to go up an average of 18% from last year. While there have been bills to help alleviate some of the burden put on homeowners – including my bill,House Bill 1051 – little has been done to fix the problems Hoosiers in redevelopment areas are currently facing.

We cannot wait to see the full brunt of the impact rising rates will have on Hoosiers, not when we have the power to act right now. Hoosiers won't receive their property tax bills until April.  This legislative cycle is a budget session, meaning we're creating a state budget for the next two years. We have an obligation to craft a budget and/or pass legislation that helps more than it harms taxpayers, and we need to prioritize legislation that relieves renters and homeowners of some of the heavy burdens placed on them by rising rates.

House Bill 1499 is an attempt to help Homestead property owners.  It is a start and will certainly change throughout the legislative process, but we still need to do more for those who live in gentrified areas whose AV has doubled and even tripled.  

Currently, Indiana has approximately 38 affordable, available homes for every 100 extremely low-income rental households. We also have the highest housing cost burden in the Midwest, with72% of low-income households in Indiana spending over half their income on housing. 

Not only is this not a sustainable housing model for our state, it is also concerning for us in the legislature to not help long-term homeowners.  Many of our constituents are struggling to simply scrape by and are struggling to pay their bills – not to mention the fact that we haven't raised the minimum wage in our state since 2008, We cannot be shy about helping Hoosiers, we must be bold in helping them in a meaningful way. 

We also need to consider the impact that these changes to property taxes will have on minorities in Indiana, who have already faced significant harm due to historic practices.

For many African American Hoosiers and Hoosiers of color, discriminatory mortgage and appraisal practices keep them from even owning a house. A report from the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana found Black homeownership in Indianapolis has declined by 30% over the last 50 years. Raising property taxes will only further the racial divide in homeownership in Indianapolis. We need to be focusing all of our efforts right now on providing relief to Hoosiers struggling to pay their bills and keep a roof over their heads. 

I'm prepared to do everything in my power to fight for Hoosiers struggling with rising taxes and costs. Whether that's having conversations about tax increment financing enhancements or putting a limiton how much an individual's taxes can increase each year, I'm committed to fighting for my constituents and all Hoosiers.

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