Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar praised the 2011 session of the Indiana General Assembly for several pro-business bills passed this session.
“This was a very good year for pro-economy, pro-jobs bills that will positively impact households throughout the state,” he said in a news release.
A leading spokesman for House Democrats had an almost opposite take on the session.
The Indiana Chamber’s list of the five most important victories this session (in alphabetical order) with comments from Brinegar included the following three pro-business measures:
- Corporate income tax rate reduction (HB 1004) – Decreases Indiana’s rate, one of the highest in the nation, from 8.5% to 6.5%; will be phased in over four years.
“This significantly strengthens Indiana’s already strong business tax climate. Indiana’s corporate income tax was exceedingly high; this reduction will make Indiana more competitive and bring its corporate rate in line with other states. Existing C corporations and their employees will realize the benefits through increased investments in jobs, equipment and company growth.”
- Illegal immigration policy that’s workable (SB 590) – Makes attempt to determine legal status of immigrants but does not aggressively overreach.
“This new law is much better than what was originally proposed. We can live with it. It’s a far cry from the discriminatory Arizona-style immigration law it started out as, which could have resulted in severe financial ramifications for the state’s economic development efforts. Thankfully, common sense prevailed.
“The ‘three strikes’ provision that could have led to a business losing its operating license and permits was removed, as were most of the law enforcement sections along with the ‘English-only’ requirements for public agencies.”
- Unemployment insurance tax relief (HB 1450) – Mitigates effects of unemployment tax increase on employers by placing them in a much lower tax rate scale through 2020. Overhauls the state’s unemployment system to bring revenues and benefits more in line with each other.
“The dramatic tax increases for employers that went into effect this year (per 2009 legislation) were too steep for many employers to absorb. Some employers would have had difficulty maintaining the size of their workforce, let alone going forward with hiring plans. With the Indiana Chamber’s urging, legislators realized this and provided much-needed relief. By shifting all Hoosier employers to a much lower rate scale (Schedule E), it will save $2 billion on their unemployment insurance bills over the next 10 years. That’s a substantial improvement over what was going to take place.”
Meanwhile, B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, former Indiana speaker of the House, who led a six-week walkout by fellow Democrats, criticized the 2011 session, calling it a “complete disaster.”
Excerpts from his press release follow:
“The damage done by single-party rule this session will be severe and lasting.
“It will be felt in the pocketbooks of Hoosiers, in the classrooms where our children are taught, and in the courtrooms of this state, where many will go in the months ahead to try to overturn some of the most onerous policies that are being signed into law.
“Here are two ‘accomplishments’ from this session that describe these past four months perfectly:
“We cut taxes on corporations by 25%.
“We cut benefits for out-of-work Hoosiers by 25%.
“Those two contrasts provide all the proof you need to see the true agenda advanced by Republicans when they have complete control of government. They might describe it as a mandate, but only on behalf of the rich and powerful special interests.
“It has been an agenda that describes job creation as right-to-work proposals that prove only to drive down wages, health care and other benefits for workers. What else could you expect from those who think that having 270,000 Hoosiers unemployed is a positive sign, and do nothing these past four months to try to find good-paying jobs for them?
“In the weeks and months ahead, the dirty reality of what has been accomplished through single-party control of this Legislature will begin to dawn on the people of Indiana.”