Say what you will, Daniels is smart

Dateline: Tue 23 Oct 2007

Gov. Mitch Daniels wrote the speech himself. He delivered it without frills. And he made some suggestions that can, if enacted by the Legislature, give Hoosiers serious property tax relief.

As some analysts have already pointed out, he is smart to throw down the gauntlet well before the Legislature goes into session. He's giving both parties plenty of time to chew over his ideas, which include the following highlights:

--"A proposal to cut every homeowner's property taxes sharply and cap them forever, at no more than one per cent of a home's true value." This would require an amendment to the Indiana constitution. It sounds great.

--A 1 percent sales tax increase.

--A newly structured assessor system, in which assessors would not be elected political officials but rather financial professionals appointed by local governments.

--The state will assume responsibility for K-12 operating and transporation expenses for schools and for the care for abused and neglected kids.

Overall, Daniels made the point that the problems Indiana is experiencing have a long history, but he said the "root cause" is excessive spending. He cited school construction, libraries and fire-fighting facilities.

Leave it to the true scholars and economic experts to weigh in on this, and even if the plan is picked apart to within an inch of its life, one has to admire the boldness of Daniels' action. Oh, and he also pledged to break into that state surplus, something Dems have been on his case to do.

How will it play? That remains to be seen in the upcoming Legislature, as well as whether he can garner any support from key Democrats in advance of an election year. But Daniels, like him or detest him, seems ahead of the game.

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