It may qualify as the worst property tax idea on record.
But the House Ways and Means Committee actually approved a proposal last week that would base homeowners' tax bills not on the value of their properties but on household income.
How would such a radical shift affect tax revenues? Would most Hoosiers' tax bills increase or decrease? Could high-income homeowners create a tax shield by shifting property titles to low-income spouses? Why should the state penalize property owners who decide to invest more in their children's education than in house payments? Or reward those who overextend themselves by buying more expensive houses than they can afford?
Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee, who not only hatched this nonsense but also successfully amended it to SJR 1, couldn't answer such questions. The committee chairman, Bill Crawford, admitted that an analysis of the proposal's fiscal impact, a basic step with any legislation that would affect revenues, had not been completed.
Gov. Mitch Daniels described the amendment as "poorly conceived.'' That's a kind criticism under the circumstances.
House Republicans also quickly and appropriately derided the amendment.
Their criticism didn't end there. Republicans took a few knocks as well:
But the GOP caucus doesn't have much room to criticize. The House version of SJR 1, which would write tax caps into the state constitution, died after Republicans tried to add a series of unrelated amendments to the resolution. One GOP proposal would have even tacked a same-sex marriage ban onto the property tax amendment.
Such distractions underscore the fact that even on an issue as urgent as property tax reform, and even after voters have warned legislators to act now or face defeat on Election Day, the game-playing in the Statehouse continues.
Lawmakers would be well-advised to heed the advice given by the Star editorial, particularly lawmakers from Marion County.