(The Center Square) – Indiana lawmakers met at the Statehouse this week for Organization Day, the formal start of Indiana’s 123rd General Assembly, which sworn in new and returning lawmakers and forecast legislative priorities.
Republicans, who hold a supermajority in both houses, will set the legislative agenda for the next two years, which will include government finances and education funding.
“Producing another balanced budget will be our top priority in the 2023 session, but there will be a number of issues that we will address,” Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said in a statement. “Education funding, mental health infrastructure, making sure our state has reliable and affordable energy, and making sure we have a robust workforce will certainly be topics of discussion. I’m ready to tackle these and other issues that come our way in January.”
Republican leaders in both houses raised the idea of tax cuts, although it’s unclear what action might result. Speaking to reporters, Bray raised the idea of eliminating the state’s income tax, but said that would not happen this term.
“Rather than making a small incremental change here or there, I would take this proposal very seriously when we get to a point where we can restructure and get rid of this income tax altogether,” he said.
House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, believes Hoosiers need tax breaks to ease inflationary pressures and the burden of a large federal government. Stressing the value of limited government, Bray said, “Too often our first reaction to a problem is, ‘How is government going to solve this?’ adding that government solutions should be the last resort.
Huston also called for an increase in parental choice in schools and an end to investing government funds in environmentally, socially and leadership-oriented ways, rather than choosing investments based on financial returns.
House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, urged Republicans to dwell on social issues and focus on funding education, raising wages and reducing health care costs.
Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said he hopes the new Legislature will work to protect the rights of the Hoosiers. “In recent years, Hoosiers have faced a relentless assault on their rights by our supermajority,” Taylor said in a Nov. 10 statement, “and my caucus will continue to work to protect our residents from government gross overstatement and public bad faith.” Protecting policies that have done this has become a trend from this body.”