Gov. Eric Holcomb

Gov. Eric Holcomb, joined by Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, outlines his agenda for the 2022 legislative session. He made the announcement Monday at the Indiana Government Center South building.

INDIANAPOLIS — At the top of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s priorities for the 2022 legislative session is eliminating the 30% business personal property tax on new equipment, enabling the state to compete with neighboring states that have lower tax hurdles.

“We’re working … to make sure that we remain the No. 1 manufacturing state in America, per-capita,” Holcomb said. “(This elimination) will encourage those continued investments in the state of Indiana (and) continue to build out that very important sector in our state’s economy.”

This year’s session begins Tuesday; he outlined his agenda in a Monday announcement.

Holcomb remains cautious about other tax cuts in the coming session, emphasizing the need for more information regarding inflation and future revenues. House Republicans have already promised to make tax cuts one of their priorities this session.

“I want to be mindful of not just the bills that we have now but the bills that may be coming in the future,” Holcomb said. “I’m trying to be disciplined about controlling my own appetite to open up a budget in a non-budget year.”

Indiana operates under a bi-annual budget, meaning legislators draft and pass the state’s two-year budget in odd-numbered years.

Holcomb’s hesitation about other tax cuts also applied to using excess revenue to fund new programs, including one aimed at expanding access to early learning.

“For those providers, there is funding to build up that capacity,” Holcomb said, referring to federal stimulus dollars designed to help centers weather the pandemic.

Through legislative action honing goals of a state early learning committee, Holcomb hopes to enroll more Hoosier children in early learning programs to prepare for kindergarten. More than half of Indiana children didn’t attend preschool as recently as 2015, the year before the state introduced its first preschool program.

Another priority would be expanding the number of Hoosiers eligible for a spring tax refund due to overflowing state reserves. An estimated 900,000 people without tax income liability, including the impoverished and elderly, will join the millions getting the $125 refund.

House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, said in a statement that Holcomb’s agenda was a refreshing divergence from the culture wars of the Statehouse Republicans but criticized the governor for not using a projected $5.1 million in revenue reserves for Hoosiers.

“It’s troubling to hear that another 12 months are needed to make these investments (in child care and public health outcomes) — at the same time, he proposes eliminating the 30% business personal property tax floor this year,” GiaQuinta said. “If we can open the budget for business, surely we can open it for our people, too.”

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