Circuit Breaker Bailout "Slotted" for Hearing

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Slot machines may be part of the solution to some of the problems created by the circuit breaker.

Property tax relief and the expansion of gambling have become linked in a new proposal in the State Senate.

The bill will be heard April 3rd in the Indiana Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee.

It proposes taking some of the money gained by allowing slot machines at horse racing tracks,
And using the cash to fund property tax relief.

Some feel that the circuit breaker stakes are too high to look this possible “gift horse” in the mouth: “If that’s what they offer us, we’ll certainly take it,” says St. Joseph County Commissioner Mark Dobson.

Dobson feels that gambling funds in Indiana should be used effectively “for all residents, not just, as it is now, where the counties with gambling boats enjoy the benefits.”

The circuit breaker threatens to reduce revenues to local units of government in St. Joseph County some $50-million by the year 2010.

The circuit breaker simply caps the maximum amount of property taxes paid by home and business owners at
Two percent of the assessed valuation.

The latest proposed circuit breaker bailout comes 3 months into a 4 month legislative session.

Some were beginning to wonder if the situation would be addressed at all.

“Tuesday April 3rd is our last meeting of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee,” said Senator John Broden, a South Bend Democrat, and a member of the committee.

Broden voted for the bill to allow slot machines at race tracks.

“This is indeed an expansion of gaming but certainly one of the reasons I supported it, was it will provide a significant source of rev. for the state and I think some of that revenue can go toward property tax relief.”

Specifically, the proposal would have the state assuming 100-percent of the cost of housing juveniles at state correctional facilities, 100 percent of the cost of school general funds, and 50-percent of the increases in child welfare costs.

Those are all bills that are now paid through local property taxes.

The new proposal also includes language similar to previous efforts that would pave the way for potential increases in local income taxes.

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