week seven of the 2003 Indiana General Assembly has now passed as have committee report deadlines in both chambers.
>> The week saw Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed the first bill of the session into law Senate bill to allows pass through entities such as Elsie's and escort's to deduct all state taxpayer and some of their federal tax returns.
The legislation is reported to save thousands of small businesses in Indiana as much as 112 million dollars in federal taxes.
The House Republican Caucus released their amendment to the governor's introduced budget.
A member of the House Ways and Means Committee is with us to talk about the spending plan that's now heading to the Senate.
Also with us is a coauthor of a House Priority Bills on Health Matters that proposed to lower health care costs and Employers for employees rather and for patients.
Meanwhile, moving forward a measure to help more Hoosiers become certified teachers and a bill that removes conditions to establish residential housing development programs with a tax increment allocation area.
>> And as we approach half time at the state house, we're going to give full time to these topics and more plusher questions on this edition of Prime Time.
I'm Bruce Haines.
With us today is Seventy Ninth District Republican State Representative and House Majority Floor Leader Matt Laman and eighty Fifth District Republicans State Representative Dave Heini.
And we've asked you to join the conversation as well.
Just call the number that you see on the screen as we widen out and you see everyone from left to right Burse Representative Representative Laman, Dave Mack.
>> Gentlemen, thank you, Bruce .
It's always good to be here.
Good to be here.
>> Thank you.
Not here in spirit but here in words House Ways and Means Chair Geoff Thompson said from students and families to taxpayers and retirees we can continue propelling all residents of Indiana forward and about that budget.
House Speaker Todd Houston said it makes significant investments in Hoosiers priorities.
And so what are your thoughts, Dave?
We'll start with you first with ways and means on the budget that just passed.
>> Well, you know, I I have to tell you I'm glad that the first half is over because we spend a lot of time, a lot of effort, a lot of work on this.
But it all starts with the taxpayer and what this House bill 10 or one budget does is it will save our taxpayers from now until 20 30 will save us one point six billion dollars in tax savings to our to our taxpayers and it'll take our income tax rate down from three point to three, which it was a year go down to two point nine .
We we sped that up which will have that savings and then for the students we were put in nearly two billion dollars of new money into K through 12 public education which is a good thing.
The funding formula goes up eight and a half percent.
The first year two percent two and a half percent the second year the biennium.
So it's good for the students and it's just been it's been really good and locally here we take the gas tax.
All the sales tax goes into the roads and so for us here in northern Indiana that will help us tremendously on us 30 to get that project done and that'll put 60 million dollars a year into into roads that was going into the budget.
So we're pretty proud of that.
Well, how about you, sir?
>> Yeah, I think you know and again these guys worked really hard in ways and means I would say if you look at kind of the budget as a whole, you always you always go into the budget hearings in the budget.
>> I'm looking at what's maybe not in there and you can look at this and you can see commitment to public education.
You can see a commitment to economic growth.
You can see a commitment to health care.
You can see commitment to the infrastructure they've talked about.
There's just it's you're in a good place because we have the money and you think you know well you can find new places to spend money.
But as Dave said, our goals also just don't collect as much .
So this is very taxpayer friendly and I think it really gets us to a place where we've set our priorities and we're going to have the right amount of funds to go to those priorities.
>> I understand that when it comes to matters with the tax code that colleagues on the Senate side are a little bit more we carry down the idea of looking holistically at the structure maybe not as interested to look at something some of the parts as opposed to the whole any particular concerns is hard to predict the future.
>> Well, you know, the unique thing about Indiana is I really believe we do the budget right.
The governor starts off with his budget.
>> We have a December forecast goes to Ways and Means Committee and we're working off the December forecast.
We do our thing for the last two months.
We passed a budget and then now it goes over to the Senate side and they have some great ideas and they'll look at what we did.
They'll add to it.
They'll take away some things but then in April we'll have the final forecast and then that is where and we believe we're going to have even more dollars that is where than the final numbers can be put together.
And I don't want to say that we worked in a vacuum.
You know, the state House isn't that big.
So you know, we're talking daily and we'll be talking with the Senate side why they're doing the budget.
So we'll come up with a good budget when it's over but it's not going to look exactly like we we passed by the House.
>> It it should get it.
We got it right now the Senate does they do a good job of kind of taking what we've done and like you said, maybe a more holistic view and a little broader view.
But at the end of the day I think the commitments are virtually the same keep money in the taxpayers pockets, fund your priorities.
It's just now an issue of as you navigate through this what are some of those priorities?
There are some things that weren't in the budget that I would like to have seen some things for Northeast Indiana, some Purdue University issues here in Fort Wayne , some airport, some stuff.
And so we'll see where that goes in the Senate but we'll continue to push for some of that.
But overall I think it really makes a strong commitment especially from the economic growth if if you go back to the regional cities program that was wildly successful on the return on our investment and then we had the ready program last year budget cycle now we have really 2.0 which is really saying look, we're seeing the money we can invest and get industry to invest is we're seeing a huge return on that.
But then leads to education issues and do we have the workforce around this?
And so we had houseboats in 02 which is kind of a you know, a part of that which is to to create another pathway for those who want to get into the skilled trades and they can use their time away from high school where they're already now maybe working in an electrician apprentice and things like that to get credit towards your graduation and then they are prepared maybe they have even socialist level degree or certifications when they enter when they graduate high school.
So I think that's you know, it's kind of putting that money into another pathway to get people into the workforce a lot quicker.
>> And this is one of those bills where again House Ways and Means it's seen the license plate number of several pieces of legislation that have been moving through and Dave Tenuta was one of them.
>> Yes, But you know, I do want to just expand a little bit on what Matt said.
>> You know, the already grants you know, we that was very successful.
>> Now we're going to do 2.0 but you know, in 2.0 we'll be able to we're going to expand that so we can put those dollars into mental health .
We can put those dollars into broadband.
So we've expanded that which which will make it better for our communities around the state, not just our our communities here in northeast Indiana but around the state so they can use those dollars and use them how it's best for their communities.
>> And I think that's what makes Indiana so great as something that are very easy to grasp.
Take away from the House budget seems to be another governor's point which is the notion of the elimination of fees for textbooks and other curriculum materials and we rolled so the governor had a great idea and what we did we just we took his idea and we rolled that into the foundation dollars.
So that's in the budget but it's not a line item like the governor had in his budget but working together with the governor we got that through and hopefully the Senate will keep that in in the final budget.
We're talking this evening with State Representative Dave Hynie and Matt Layman here on prime time and we invite you to join the conversation as Alan has.
>> Let's go to the phones.
Allen, good evening.
Go ahead with your question or comment, please.
And I appreciate you taking my call.
I have a couple of concerns.
One is how many bills did not get a hearing and did not get voted upon and another one is is HB 14 32 which would have increased the personal allowance for people who are in nursing homes on Medicaid from two dollars to one hundred and that was offered by represent Curveball and far as I could tell by the day that did not get a hearing in committee or go to the floor.
>> All right.
Thank you very much, Joe Yagan maybe address the 14th thirty two of the been a ways and means but let's come to go Alan and thank you Alan for your call.
I would say that you know we have a we have a 10 mile limit per member and not every member of our ten mills but we probably had 600 and maybe about 600, 30 or 640 bills filed and you'll see less than probably half of those make it through the committee process probably 200 or so make it through the committee process and then of those you might not get as many to the House floor and I'd say maybe 180 somewhere in that market will end up in the Senate and then depends on what they do comes back to.
So I said I've always said our founders got it right when they said we need to do two sets of eyes look at this and really made it very difficult to pass a law and so do the committee process the Second Amendment process the third you're reading the final vote and then the whole process over getting the Senate and vice versa.
We take down the Senate bills.
It really sets the bar pretty high on getting a bill passed.
But to the to the to the House Bill Allen is concerned about Allen.
I do not believe that the bill didn't get a hearing but it may and maybe Dave can address this where some stuff like that ends up and I think Allen on on I think it was 14 thirty two that you said sometimes Bill doesn't get a hearing but what they what we do is we'll take fourteen thirty two and we'll put that into another bill that's like it and then I don't want to see we'll change it and then that's what gets voted on but I'm not sure just how much of that how much increase you've got there so I'll have to look that up and maybe I can give you a call back.
>> Well thank you very much if you'd like to join again the lines are open.
>> Health Matters is the moniker given to two House priority bills one thousand three one thousand four.
They look to lower health costs for employers and patients.
They almost look identical as you start reading the Met your coauthor on these legislation items.
>> What's going on with health care?
Yeah, so really both of those both of those House Montaño three deals more with me and I'll say the insurance side of health care and tenofovir on the hospital side of health care and what we have noticed over the last decade almost has been Indiana's reimbursement of health care has continued to rise and we are now one of the most the highest reimbursed health care systems throughout the United States.
>> We have one off here, one out there.
So we said we got him in a couple of years ago and said look, you've got to bring these costs down and insurance companies point their finger at the hospitals and hospitals, point your finger the insurance companies.
And so finally we said look, here's the deal.
We've got to get this down and we've got the national average as the standard and you know, Terho forces you've got to get there if you don't make the effort to get there and there's a penalty to that a one percent penalty if you don't get the two hundred and I think maybe it's like two hundred eighty five or something like that percent of Medicare the concern is do they just pay the penalty, you know, because it is really a strong enough incentive to get their costs down at the same time that's happening the insurance companies are saying but we're kind of in a box of under the Affordable Care Act we're forced to push 15 percent of all we have out the door now that 15 percent is going to get smaller and so we're really trying to get this to where at the end of the day whether you're lowering the cost of the service at the hospital, you're lowering reimbursement to the hospital from the care from the provider.
>> It's got to end up in the consumer's pocket and really that consumer is the either the individual buying their own plan or the business providing the group health insurance.
But one thing to keep in mind too is in Indiana probably close to 70 percent of our plans are self-funded plans and they're managed by Arissa.
So one of the things we're trying to look at too is where can we push the envelope because there is a federal program that are regulated.
>> How do we continue to kind of push against that to make sure we're doing right for Hoosiers versus the big picture of the federal?
>> So it's a it's a bill that has come a long way and we met yesterday before we left we met with the insurance companies about the hospitals.
>> No one's happy.
And so I think maybe we found the right place.
Well, and I'll just add one thing to that.
You know, you have the insurance people.
They have their lobbyists.
OK, You have the hospital, they have their lobbyists.
Guess who doesn't have a lobbyist?
It's the citizens and we're there to represent those the citizens we got elected.
It's our job to look out after the citizens, after the people that we're paying too much and somebody has got to look out for them.
>> So that's what we're trying to do at the beginning of the session.
There was also concern several pieces of legislation from a variety of angles to address worker shortage to improve conditions everything from number of jobs training for jobs to housing for the workers when they're not on the job.
But among all of that, one of the key areas in search of support teachers not long ago a piece of legislation passing on its way to the Senate to help more Hoosiers become certified teachers.
This is a transition to teaching bill and Dave Haney wrote it well, I'd like to take credit for it but Marilyn his song wrote it the superintendent of Eastland County Schools.
It's a program that they're doing currently we have six students that are getting their educator their teaching certificate from trying university but they could be getting it from Purdue University here in Fort Wayne .
But what it does is they're taking existing substitute teachers.
Let's just use that full time sub that would has a college degree and she wanted to be a teacher.
So while she's being a substitute teacher, while she's working at Eastland County schools, she's going to try getting her certificate, have it in 11 months and then she'd be a full time teacher.
So it's good for the school.
It's good for the students because they have someone that really wants to be a teacher 50 plus years young and so it's good for everybody and proud that Maryland gave me the idea and where had it all written down.
In fact I had to do is present it and I'm thinking scholarship is a part of this and then yeah, well the state will pay a ten thousand up to ten thousand dollars.
So in this in the way it's working the candidate does not have to pay for their for their license which works out for everybody it as we're looking toward the midpoint of the legislative session let me start with you on this one.
As you say, many are many are introduced if you are approved and wondering within your own legislation that you initially said I'm going to follow these or I'm going to write these, where are you on some of the pieces that you're now saying?
>> I think I see them moving forward and these are important for these reasons.
Yes, I tell people, you know, we're a citizen legislature so we bring our expertize to the table and being in the insurance business, you know, trying to make sure we have a good competitive marketplace between the carriers and the agents and the consumers.
But the thing and Dave, I always tell people no one gets excited about insurance bills.
I asked Nikki Kelly one time in general when she was the drunk that I said are you going to write an article about this bill?
And she said no because nobody would read it.
>> But it is important because there's a lot of things we do and not just in that space.
But I also chair the the state audit committee and we do we found a lot of things like the state board of accounts that had problems with locals who were either unaffordable in their books.
They weren't doing the steps to even correct those audits and we found that we really didn't need teeth in the law.
And so it led to two things two different bills.
One that said if you need to be trained will train you and so were we put in a lot of parameters that allows these people to go to state asset classes ,stay more of a council, set up these classes and you can go get the training you need to be the clerk or the auditor or the city or the city town clerk.
And then the second piece of it is if you don't get your books audited first thing we do is we put you on the naughty list, OK, because a lot of these entities were just unknown and no one even knew they weren't doing or audits.
Now they'll know hey, my county's not doing their audit right.
And so we put them on the list and then they got 60 days to clean up.
They're on it and at some point then they have to default to a CPA coming in helping them get the books ready.
What it does hurt is you know, a lot of these institutions are bond rating is a state but they also look at their own books and so a bonding company can come in.
>> You're going to do a water project and they'll say your books don't look good.
>> We can't we can't give you the best bond rate we can.
That hurts the taxpayers.
So at the end of the day we want to elect good people at the same time they need to be well trained and we're going to step up on the training as well as holding them accountable when they don't get that done.
So those bills passed early again Bill, that doesn't create a lot of controversy.
>> It doesn't create a lot of newspaper articles but it's key to helping the citizenry and so those are over in the Senate and those will move along pretty quickly.
>> Very good at gave up up for you, sir.
>> Well, one thing I just want to comment on and Matt in the insurance industry and so that's why it's so important he mentioned about you know, we're part time legislators.
Well, Matt brings the insurance industry you know, that's what he does so he knows, you know, how to be you know what needs to be done in the insurance industry.
We have a retired M.D.
and a retired doctor who authored House Bill Ten for the medical you know, the hospital side.
>> So he understands that.
So for a guy like me that you know, just a business guy that don't know very much, it's always you know, it's nice for me to be able to listen to a man or listen to a doctor Barrett explain those bills so that we know what we're voting on and we can go back to our constituents and let them know here's what we did to help you lower or help your health care bills go down.
So very important that we're a citizen legislature.
>> That's key because I do think and even with Dave you know, business standpoint, agriculture you know, we have a lot of people who come from different aspects and we you kind of defer to them because I'll look at some things and I'll say hey Dave, is this look like this makes sense to you?
So it's a really good team effort and I think that's why it's key that we bring our expertize and then we stay a citizen legislature.
>> Well, and part of your committee work, Dave, you were speaking to something that again was Reverend started the session on roads and transportation.
The notion that U.S. 30 could be something bigger than it is already like what happens when the U.S. highway becomes a freeway?
>> Well, what happens is it will grow.
You know, businesses are going to come to northern Indiana because they have a way to truck their products across the country.
>> So it's it's huge that US Thirty becomes a freeway and I can remember three years ago when in fact commissioner said Hynie US USA will never be a freeway and now we're doing a study to turn that into a freeway.
So you know, when you have the support of our business leaders around the state around this area and they have the governor's ear or you know what things get done and it's a tribute to all the community working together business and and the legislators and that's how things get done.
>> And for those who are wondering so what is the difference between US highway at a freeway?
>> The freeway has exit ramps well just medians and they don't have any turns and that's the key we won't have turns and I have a turn in my district and I'd love nothing more than turn to go away.
>> I just used that not long ago but I'll say this to the to the credit of Dave and then others.
As you know, we all have our our a passion of an issue and sometimes we're told no and sometimes you walk away and say well another day another time.
Right Dave don't let that go.
And he really rallied the people of our delegation and also the business community and said when you look at the growth around Warsaw in the bio medical industry and you look at the growth in the plimmer there and you realize that Fort Wayne , the Chicago corridor is key to economic growth in Indiana and we're the crossroads of America and we have you we got 70.
We got 69.
We got 65.
The tollroad you now have to focus on some of these arterial and thirty's a key artery through Indiana and I think making that a limited access and allowing that to be so like as Dave said, more product can move through.
You're going to see huge economic growth on uncertainty.
That's great not just for northeast Indiana but it's great for all of Indiana.
>> It'll be great for Byrd.
To see it coming.
Let me ask you both as you're going down this road all the way to the end of April with the current session you're not going alone.
You're in contact with your constituents and in the fleeting moments we have what are you hearing from the folks at home in your area?
>> I'll go first on that.
You know, I just had a meeting before I came here property taxes, you know, the assessed value statewide is we're looking at an 18 percen increase in property taxes or not property taxes but in assessed evalu evaluation.
So that's going to be an issue and we're going to have to figure out how we can help our local governments go through that and come up with solutions .
But yeah, we had Senator Coleman I shared district and we had several town halls last week and I think, you know, I kind of echo what Dave said.
A lot of it's around property taxes.
You know the other issue out there, it's it's still on the calendar for for is the school board elections, you know, issue which is is ginned up a lot of both support and opposition.
And so that's the thing about town halls.
I've been doing this for for a number of years now where you really get to get a pulse of the community and I do listen to that.
I mean I go back and you know, I may have my ideas of what I like or what I want to do but then I go back and I see the overwhelming support of this or that and I think, you know, you kind of get about some of that and so I think one of the things we've heard over and over again in the last couple of weeks has been property taxes and other impacts and have not just on on the locals but on on schools and everybody else something to follow among the many things to keep an eye on on when we move back into the second half of activity the state house for now the gentlemen, thank you for your efforts through all that's been taking place since the first of the year and beyond that to for work for Northeast be appreciate it.
>> Thank speaking with State Representative Steve Hynie and Matt Laman for all of us with prime time, I'm Bruce Haines.
>> Take care.
We'll see you again next week.