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Indiana Senate Republicans' inflation relief plan clashes with House GOP's, governor's proposals

Indiana Senate Republican leader Rodric Bray speaks to reporters at a press conference on the Senate floor on July 20, 2022. Bray is in a dark blue lightly striped suit and light blue shirt with a yellow tie.
Brandon Smith
/
IPB News
Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) said his caucus thinks its inflation relief plan is the best way to get Hoosiers some help.

Indiana Senate Republicans' inflation relief plan doesn’t line up with what House Republicans and the governor are proposing.

The Senate’s plan, unveiled Wednesday, would not send $225 checks to every taxpayer.

Instead, the proposal, SB 3 (ss), would suspend the 7 percent sales tax that you pay on your utility bills for six months – electricity, water, gas, internet and phone.

It also caps, through June 2023, the state sales tax on gasoline. That rate fluctuates each month based on gas prices. Under the bill, it couldn’t be more than 29.5 cents per gallon (which is roughly what it will be in August).

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) said his caucus thinks its plan is the best way to get Hoosiers some relief.

“That we’re not passing out money to individuals – we are providing them to save some money on their utility bills, which everyone’s going to pay,” Bray said.

Some economists have said Gov. Eric Holcomb's plan to send $225 (or $450, if filing jointly) to everyone who filed a state income tax return last year would further contribute to inflation. That's a worry Bray said he shares.

READ MORE: Older Hoosiers and those with disabilities question why they're left out of inflation relief

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There's also been criticism of Holcomb's plan from advocates for older Hoosiers and people with disabilities. Many low-income people – including those on Social Security and disability – don't make enough to file taxes and would be left out of the governor's proposal.

The House GOP plan would solve that by allowing those who didn't file taxes last year to submit an affidavit with the Indiana Department of Revenue to receive the $225.

House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said Hoosiers need relief now.

"Indiana is in a position to give them back their money," Huston said.

Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said he doesn’t understand why the Senate GOP plan will spend $615 million to fund construction projects and pay down pension debt.

“They’re using that money for credit … we have a triple-A credit rating and that’s more important than feeding families,” Taylor said.

Senate Republicans said their plan will save the average Hoosier household about $100.

The first public hearings on the House and Senate inflation relief plans are scheduled for Tuesday.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri.