Legislative Update 4-4-09

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Attended the Legislative Update today at City Hall.

The hot topic was property tax caps and reform.  As you know the caps were pushed through quickly and we should see it on 2009 pay 2010 tax bills.  Keep in mind this is not a permanent tax cap, yet.  We still will be able to vote on it.  Some legislatures were concerned local government would not have time to prepare for the loss of revenue.  Senator Sue Errington disagreed, citing the Umbaugh and Associates study.  The study was paid for by local governments to help determine their revenues and hopefully lead the elected officials into some good old-fashioned belt tightening. 

Another big issue was balancing the budget.  All agreed that every budget was balanced.  Jack Lutz commented he wanted a balanced budget without gimmicks.  Some may recall when the schools were denied money and the state borrowed to pay it back.  Certainly falls into the “gimmick” category.

Of course unemployment fund is another big concern.  As we know it is broke and broke.  How to fix it is another question.  Should we burden already struggling business and ask them to ante up?  Decrease benefits or just wait for the stimulus money to bail us out?  Remember, the stimulus money comes with strings attached.  We are the stimulus money, don’t forget. 

One of my favorite topics was addressed, which is the Kernan-Shepard report. Senator Errington has been in favor and sees it is as a viable tool to get government on track.  She said at least one part has been resurrected.  Moving mayoral elections to even years, saving cities millions of dollars, forbidding an elected official to hold a government job.  Maybe we can shed the conflict of interest papers, which nobody signs anyway.  In addition, putting school board elections on the November ballot instead of the primary.  Representative Lutz said it was hard for the house to digest, and Bill Davis thought it should be broken down.  He went on to say it is one way for government to become transparent and efficient.  Representative Dennis Tyler said he has not heard anything from his constituents on the report.  If you like what the Kernan-Shepard report has to say, get on the horn and give Mr. Tyler a shout, send an email or write a letter.  All contact information is available on this site along with the K-S report. 

I liked what Senator Errington had to say about the Kernan-Shepard report, Delaware County Modernization and Consolidation committee and tightening our belts.  She spoke on how the libraries are doing it, so it is possible, folks.

By far, my favorite is Mr. Bill Davis.  He seems in tune with what is happening and what needs to be done.  I liked it when he said the people are sacrificing everyday and government should too.  Right on, dude!

One item up for discussion was funding for 211.  211 is similar to 411, except it gives you information on where to go for assistance.  I used it once, and was I happy it was available.  Had an elderly friend who really wasn’t able to care for herself any longer.  I called every agency in the book, either a no call back or the agency was unable to help.  After dialing 211, they put me in touch with the correct agency and we got the ball rolling. I am making the ordeal simplier that it was…very frustrating situation until 211 came into the picture.

Other issues were addressed, and you can read my notes on the forum in the pages section of this blog.

Muncie Chamber of Commerce

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