It’s Tuesday of what is anticipated to be the final week of the 2017 convening of the Indiana General Assembly. Legislators aim to close this year’s budget session by Friday, April 21, before firefighters descend on Indianapolis in droves for their annual convention.
More than 70 conference committees may meet between now and then. Because of the supermajorities, these conference committee discussions are ultimately about disagreements regarding priorities of the Republicans in the Senate and House.
Over the past few months we have tracked legislation of interest from a fiscal perspective. Here is the current status of those bills:
HB 1001: State Biennial Budget (awaiting conference committee).
The mandatory passage of this bill makes it one of the most contested of the session. Spending priorities set by Gov. Eric Holcomb, the House, and the Senate are evident at this point in time from the various budget versions. Whether funding was completely taken away or simply shuffled from one fund to another, the $308 million difference between the versions passed by the Senate and House isn’t so great in the overall $38 billion estimated budget.
Medicaid and Education account for much of the total spending and much of the differences between budget versions. Construction funding is another area showing large differences. Annual surplus estimates bear the brunt of these differences with $50 million and $100 million variances during the biennium.
HB 1002: Transportation Infrastructure Funding (awaiting conference committee).
The outcome of this bill will greatly influence the budget. Revenues are allocated differently for the House and Senate versions of this bill and impact availability of funds for certain projects. How the revenues are allocated affects how much money will be available for transportation infrastructure funding. The cigarette tax, gasoline tax, and where these revenues are directed are major pieces to determining available funds for critical improvements.
HB 1123: Study Civil Forfeiture Laws (signed by Gov. Holcomb).
The Legislative Council is urged to form a summer committee to study the state’s civil forfeiture laws. Recommendations for future legislation may then be reported.
HB 1144: South Shore Rail Transit (awaiting conference committee).
While the Senate made many changes to the original bill, it still fundamentally creates a rail-transit corridor in Northwest Indiana. The bill allows two additional counties, St. Joseph and LaPorte, to participate in the redevelopment of the South Shore Line to Chicago. The plan is to create a Transportation-Oriented Development District to capture the incremental tax growth and use the money to pay off bonds acquired to double-track the railway and establish a western corridor between Dyer and Hammond.
SB 60: State Executive Officer Salaries (signed by Sen. Long).
This bill establishes the Executive Officers Compensation Advisory Commission to study salaries of state executive officers and make recommendations if adjustments are deemed necessary.
SB 507: Economic Development (awaiting conference committee).
Legislators originally filed for a concurrence on the amendments to this bill; however, the concurrence was withdrawn and the bill now heads for a conference committee. This legislation proposes to consolidate, rename, or eliminate multiple economic development funds, ultimately streamlining the hierarchy between the IEDC and local authorities.