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Lawmakers ceremonially kick off 2023 legislative session, discuss property tax relief, health care

By Brandon Smith, IPB News | Published on in Economy, Government, Health, Politics
Indiana lawmakers are sworn in on Organization Day – the ceremonial start to the legislative session – Nov. 22, 2022. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

Indiana lawmakers plan to provide Hoosiers with relief from property tax bills that are on the rise. And House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said Indiana needs bold action to address high health care costs.

That came with Tuesday’s Organization Day at the Statehouse, the ceremonial start of the 2023 legislative session.

Huston said his caucus will prioritize a holistic look at the property tax system. That includes tax relief, changes to the state’s business personal property tax and reducing funding disparities between school districts.

And he noted that property taxes benefit local governments, not the state government.

“We recognize and understand the concerns of local governments and we want to address those within this process, too,” Huston said.

Huston said he’s also open to discussing other tax cuts this session. The state is already scheduled to gradually reduce the income tax rate over the next several years.

READ MORE: Lawmakers send $1 billion tax cut package to governor’s desk

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Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) said when it comes to income taxes, he’s not interested in a piecemeal approach.

“If we can get to a point where we can restructure and get rid of that income tax altogether, I would take that proposal very seriously,” Bray said.

On health care, Republican legislative leaders sent providers a letter at the start of 2022, asking for commitments to lowering health care costs. Huston said he was disappointed with the responses.

“This will mean some uncomfortable conversations with insurers, health care providers and others in the industry,” Huston said. “But the current cost trajectory is simply unsustainable.”

Part of the health care discussion will be recommendations of the governor’s Public Health Commission. It proposed a $240 million per year increase in public health spending. Indiana ranks around the bottom of the country for such funding – the commission’s recommendation would get the state to the national average.

Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) is doubtful it will happen.

“I don’t think they’re even going to come close to $240 million a year,” Taylor said. “Let’s just be honest about it, OK?”

Bray said on Monday he was doubtful the legislature would approve that much spending. While he was less resistant Tuesday, he still emphasized that he thinks the state must address its public health system infrastructure first.

“We’ll have a conversation about whether we can do all of that at once,” Bray said.

The session begins in January.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.