Now that the legislative session has concluded, learn the final status of key bills monitored and advocated for/opposed by the Indiana Chamber in 2017 (links are PDFs):
Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on the long-term road funding agreement, which was unveiled late this afternoon by Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long:
“We laud the compromise reached by House and Senate fiscal leaders that will fund Indiana’s infrastructure needs for the foreseeable future. We are very pleased to see such a substantial long-term funding plan to address the many maintenance and new construction needs that exist throughout our state. This legislation was the Indiana Chamber’s top priority for this session.
“This thoughtful approach also makes sure to fund both state and local road projects – which we know is very important for Hoosier companies – and that everyone pays their fair share through a user-fee based model.
“This agreement has been the product of several years of research and discussion and we congratulate everyone involved. We strongly encourage the members of the General Assembly to support this legislation with their vote Friday.”
The revenue projections for the next two fiscal years were updated on Wednesday, giving the General Assembly revised numbers to use in finalizing a state budget before the session wraps up next week. The update also readjusted the current Fiscal Year 2017 numbers; the FY17 numbers that were reduced by nearly $300 million dollars in December were now adjusted back upward by $124 million (so FY17 won’t turn out as bad as previously thought).
That FY17 readjustment serves as a foundation for the forecasters’ confidence that the slow but steady economic growth will continue at a moderate pace over the coming biennium. The pleasant result: a modestly higher revenue forecast for FY2018 and FY2019. The forecast increase resulted from projected growth in sales tax collections (2.7% in FY18 and 3.4% in FY19), sales tax being the source that Indiana is most dependent on, and the larger percentage increase but smaller cumulative dollar increase anticipated in income tax collections (3.4% in FY18 and 5.9% in FY19) – the source that represents the next largest contributor to the state coffers.
The bottom line is that the forecast adds $200 million, only about six-tenths of one percent of the roughly $32 billion that the lawmakers now can expect to see collected in tax revenue over the next two years. While it is a small addition, it is still $200 million that they hadn’t planned on when they put together the budget numbers in HB 1001.
Understandably, the fiscal leaders caution against any major changes to what they have formulated to this point, but as the budget negotiations continue into the last days, they are certain to hear this additional money referenced as justification for some new or additional funding requests. Read the details from the forecasters’ presentation.
For unknown reasons, the House Ways and Means Committee – after taking testimony – elected not to take a vote on SB 545 last week prior to the deadline for committee passage.
The bill represented a well thought out and sound approach for collecting Indiana sales tax on online transactions. While the bill died in committee, there remains the possibility that its provisions could find their way into another bill before the session ends. The Chamber will continue to advocate for this bill to be incorporated into another piece of legislation.
The Chamber was pleased to see the Senate pass a long-term road funding bill (34-13). During the floor vote, the Chamber lobbying team worked to get additional votes for what might have been a much closer margin. Five Republican senators voted against the Chamber on HB 1002: John Crane (Avon), Mike Delph (Carmel), Aaron Freeman (Indianapolis), Jean Leising (Oldenburg) and Andy Zay (Huntington). One Democrat, David Niezgodski (South Bend), voted with the Chamber.
There are differences between the House and Senate proposals, however:
The “swim lanes” of the bill are now clearly defined. Work will continue during the next two weeks by the Chamber and our coalition partners to reconcile the differences between the two versions. We believe Indiana will finally end up with a long-term sustainable transportation infrastructure funding bill, one of our Indiana Vision 2025 goals.
Call to Action: Please contact your legislators to encourage them to support HB 1002. Let them know today that long-term funding is important to you and your company!
The long-awaited announcement of the Senate initial version of the budget came late
last week. In it, there are several technology-related issues that were either included or dropped from the bill, as well as some funding amounts also reduced from the House version:
We will work to keep the things we like in the bill and try to restore other items that were reduced or removed as it advances through the Senate and goes to conference committee. The Chamber will continue to educate legislators on these important economic development priorities currently in the bill.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley (R- Noblesville), primary drafter of the Senate version of the budget, has now put his touches on the House-drafted version. After a concise explanation and short discussion in committee, HB 1001 was passed unanimously (although the Democrat leadership expressed mild discomfort with some particulars) and now goes to the full Senate.
A few highlights of the $32.14 billion budget package include:
The budget will maintain an 11%, or $1.8 billion, reserve. But there is a lot still to be determined about how the final negotiated budget will shape up. Unresolved at this point is the fate of the House’s desire to direct all the sales tax collected on gasoline to road funding and an increase to the cigarette tax – both of which could impact the budget. And finally, it must be recalled that the budget-makers will receive an updated revenue forecast in a couple weeks; that too could change the picture some. So, while the Senate has spoken, the last word is still a few weeks away.
The Indiana Chamber was pleased overall to see the Senate response to the House road funding bill. Several aspects of the plan will be determined as this bill goes forward – including how it interfaces with the budget bill’s (HB 1001) evolution.
Some key Senate changes from the House road funding plan are:
This version of the bill should bring in about $672 million per year. Tolling has the potential of bringing in up to $400 million per year, when implemented. Removing the House proposed sales tax revenue collected on fuel sales that were earmarked for the highway fund reduces the total by over $300 million. As the bill moves forward, the Senate may have other cashflows in mind that can be repurposed to replace that revenue stream. Doing so will help get the road funding bill close to the $1.2 billion a year the extensive Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger, Safer Tomorrow taskforce recommended last year.
The Chamber testified in support of this version of the bill. It keeps the discussion going and presents other ideas and options to be considered for the final version of the bill, which we will work to bring to a good landing at the end of session.
The Chamber will continue to advocate for a strong, user-fee based model to address Indiana’s $1.2 billion per year road funding gap. We encourage members of the business community to contact your state senator to let them know they need to support HB 1002 to address the huge $1.2 million gap in Indiana’s road funding.
Call to Action: Connect with your state senator via our grassroots page. Let them know today that long-term road funding is important to you and your company!
Now that the completion of the Interstate 69 corridor from southern Indiana to Indianapolis is becoming closer to reality, it’s time to look at how the state can take its moniker of “The Crossroads of America” to the next level.
The I-69 Regional Summit on May 5 in downtown Indianapolis will focus on how this long-awaited connection through the state positively impacts communities along the route and what increased economic development efforts those areas can pursue.
The event is presented by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Hoosier Voices for I-69.
Speakers from across the United States and Canada will provide attendees with a comprehensive overview of the project and its magnitude, plus the potential economic opportunities that each community and the state has as a result. Experts also will examine ways to enable collaboration and leverage the new I-69 corridor from a statewide perspective.
The summit will open with the latest from the Indiana Department of Transportation on Section 5 and a timeline for Section 6, as well as updates on the Trump administration’s proposed transportation funding bill. Breakout sessions will cover topics such as branding and marketing strategies; the Canada/U.S. connection; economic development; zoning and tax credits; best practices and much more.
“We encourage business and civic leaders all along the I-69 route to attend this gathering. They will receive detailed information and a toolkit of ideas to take back to their own community or organization, as well as the chance to connect with experts who can be tapped into after the summit concludes,” says Indiana Chamber CEO Kevin Brinegar, who is also chairman of the board for Hoosier Voices for I-69.
A reception will be held May 4 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. The summit begins the morning of May 5 at 8 a.m. and concludes at 4 p.m. A luncheon from noon to 1:30 p.m. will be held May 5, with a keynote panel that includes Canadian Consul General Douglas George.
All events are held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis.
Cost for the full summit (including the May 4 reception) is $269 per person.
Individual tickets to the May 4 reception are $69. Individual tickets to the May 5 luncheon are $69; a table of 10 at the lunch on May 5 is $600.
The platinum sponsor is Duke Energy. Silver sponsors are: Hoosier Energy; Indiana Office of Tourism Development; Radius Indiana; and Smithville Fiber. Silver lunch sponsors are: AZTEC Engineering; Butler, Fairman & Seufert Inc.; Daviess County Economic Development Foundation, Inc.; and Old National Bank. Bronze lunch sponsors are: HNTB Corporation; and 69 BridgeLink.
Sponsorship opportunities are still available; for more information, contact Jim Wagner at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (317) 264-6876.
Three amendments were recently offered to SB 309 and approved during last week’s hearing – two by Rep. David Ober (R-Albion) and one by Rep. Ryan Hatfield (D-Evansville). One amendment clarified who qualified as an applicant for a CPCN, one for the study of self-generation by schools and one changes the deadline of installation to receive the 30-year grandfathered rate to December 31, 2017.
The Indiana Chamber testified in support of the bill and tried to clarify some of the confusion over net metering (no one is trying to kill the solar industry). We also expressed some of the concerns that some members have over co-generation (that they would like more flexibility). We emphasized that we do not want the bill to fail because it is truly a compromise of long-standing issues that industrial users and businesses, as well as residential ratepayers, have had with Indiana’s investor-owned utilities. It will not fix all concerns our members have expressed, but is a first step in helping businesses control costs and building a statewide energy plan. It will serve as a building block of the Chamber’s efforts to maintain Indiana’s competitive edge when looking at energy costs that have risen over the past decade.
On March 22, the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee heard nearly a day of testimony on this bill in a full House chamber from many groups and individuals, both in support and against the bill. No vote will be taken until Wednesday.