The 2019 legislative session is over; unlike last year, sine die came a few days early and without much drama (the K-12 kumbaya moment on Thursday was a stark contrast to 2018’s dueling press conferences). There was general agreement between the Governor and GOP supermajorities in the House and Senate on the budget framework and other key issues.
But the last five months have seen plenty of tough negotiations, public controversies and private deal-making, and intense lobbying over how to collect and spend the $34.6 billion dollars that will flow from the state’s coffers over the next two years.
So to quote Mobb Deep, let’s take a quick look at the “survival of the fittest” – some of the bills and budget priorities that made it through the General Assembly gauntlet.
Follow the Money:
Let’s start where the action is: The final budget deal, HB1001, was passed before midnight Wednesday. Taking it from the top spending category, K-12 education:
Some other budget highlights:
Of note, the online sales tax provisions formerly in SB322 were moved into the budget, levying innkeeper’s taxes on short-term rentals (and at ‘retail’ rates for online hotel booking sites) and putting market facilitators like Amazon on the hook for sales tax collections.
Turning virtual transactions into real revenues will help support the Capital Improvement Board, which will rely on innkeeper’s taxes and other revenue streams to fund facility improvements (expanding the convention center and executing a long-term lease agreement with the Pacers) and support downtown development as outlined in SB7(which got a Senate concurrence vote earlier this week).
Other metro communities like Greenwood and Danville also earned the authority to levy local innkeeper’s taxes via HB1402.
As an aside, SB7 isn’t the end of the fight to sustain the CIB and strengthen our hospitality sector – now the focus shifts to the City-County Building to put these tools to work. We’ll keep pushing forward.
A Winning Week for Economic Development
SB563 also got a thumbs-up on its conference report, making important revisions to the state’s economic development toolkit:
Along with new tax breaks for large data centers (HB1405) and funding of the 21stCentury and Business Promotion & Innovation Funds, it was a solid session for economic development. And speaking of redevelopment, HB1518 also headed to the Governor’s desk this week, making it easier for mixed-use developments like Indy’s Bottleworks project (a former brownfield) to secure alcohol permits for food hall tenants.
Back to School:
We covered K-12 and workforce development funding with the budget, but a couple more items of note:
Rolling the Dice:
In the waning hours of session, SB552 also passed – with perhaps the most consternation and conflicted comments of any successful bill, as you might expect from a sprawling revision of gaming policy.
It allows relocation (and potential expansion) of casinos in Gary, clears the way for a new casino in Terre Haute, offers ‘hold harmless’ olive branches to other gaming communities, including French Lick, and approves sports betting statewide (including mobile wagering). Of metro interest, it also accelerates table games at racinos in Anderson and Shelbyville to 2020 (a year earlier than previously authorized).
Don’t forget your homework:
We should also note that, in addition to the school complexity formula, some important topics also landed on the interim study agenda – including the ‘regional investment hubs’ (allowing interlocal alliances to form RDAs and levy certain taxes for local and regional priorities) and the allocation of local income taxes based on residence and employment patterns.
The Regional Cities Development Fund was phased out of the budget (leaving remaining funding needs to be covered by the Business & Innovation Fund, as mentioned earlier), but we’re more eager for a serious discussion of how localities and regions can build ‘own source’ revenue capacity to pursue ongoing capital needs and transformative economic development projects. These are critical areas that we’ll be speaking up on during study committees.
We’ll also be doing our homework for next week: Look for a more comprehensive wrap-up of the session, including our wins (we had plenty) and disappointments (we won’t ruin your weekend by restating them now) and a more detailed list of the bills that passed, failed, and may return next year.