Overriding Pence veto common sense
Last week, members of the Indiana General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in a special session to override a veto by Gov. Mike Pence of House Enrolled Act 1546.
That action — approved by the House and Senate — should save Jackson County taxpayers money in the long run.
Although we share the view of Pence and lawmakers such as Sen. Jim Smith, R-Charlestown, who voted to sustain the veto — that retroactively approving a tax generally isn’t good government — we’re just not so sure the governor was right last month when he vetoed the measure that allows Jackson and Pulaski counties to keep income tax collections after their taxing authority had expired by mistake.
As we’ve said before, this isn’t a new tax and county officials weren’t hoodwinking their constituents. The 0.1 percent additional rate on the county’s adjusted-gross income tax has been around since its enactment by the General Assembly in 1998. The revenue has financed and will continue to finance operations of the county jail and juvenile detention center.
The problem facing the county started in 2011 when local officials failed to seek a renewal of the tax. State officials failed to realize that as well, allowing the tax to be collected in 2012. That money, the governor said, should be refunded or credited to taxpayers.
Then, last summer when the county submitted its tax work to the state without the 0.1 percent adjusted-gross income tax, the state approved local tax rates but penciled that rate back into effect with no legislative authority for it, county officials say.
Had lawmakers sustained the governor’s veto, the county faced petitioning the General Assembly again next session. That — and the refunding of money already collected in error — would have meant a third year without collecting the tax. That means the county could have lost an estimated $2.1 million in revenue, which would have affected county government services, future construction plans aimed at meeting space needs and finding a permanent home for Jackson Superior Court II and ended up costing taxpayers more money.