Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Letters to the Editor

December 27, 2013

READER POINT OF VIEW: Rep. Culver misses the mark

State Rep. Wes Culver’s Point of View (The Goshen News, Dec. 21) misses the mark, not only regarding the role of the Elkhart County Commissioners, but on most every reason he gave to support his position.

To begin, the “new tax” or better described as the Circuit Breaker Relief Local Option Income Tax, is not solely the Commissioners’ idea. The concept was conceived by the Intergovernmental Forum, a collaborative group comprised of representatives from our community’s cities, towns and county government. The proposal is also supported by our public school superintendents. Everyone agrees this new concept is better than the current options available. The Commissioners are the legislative body of county government, it is logical we take the lead.

Culver then spins political by stating this tax would be added to the “dozens of other taxes” and “take away another 1/2 week of pay.” The county receives income tax and property tax revenue; the other taxes must be state and federal? Additionally, local income taxes are adjusted with deductions and exemptions. Families at the lower end of the wage scale are protected.

It is true we have acquired the services of a lobbying firm. I hope Mr. Culver is not assuming the public is so naïve to believe lobbyists have no role in what happens in Indianapolis. One of the more powerful lobbying groups in the state — the Indiana Chamber of Commerce — is currently working to implement its policy of eliminating business personal property taxes. Many interest groups are represented by lobbyists. The county is acknowledging the real world of the legislative environment. Other legislators need to learn about our idea; if our representatives were able to focus only on our issue, we would not need a lobbyist. But that is not the case.

Culver indicates the purpose of the tax caps is to “prevent government from raising taxes.” Not true. At the time the tax caps were passed, the Legislature created three new local option income taxes. The purpose of the caps is to shift local government funding from property taxes to income taxes. Elkhart County did not enact these new taxes because we did not need them. The recession changed this situation. We still have the existing three options. Yet enacting these will likely result in a tax rate higher than our new concept and a tax rate that could be permanent. Our idea ties the tax rate to our economic recovery. If we recover, and I believe we will, the rate automatically declines and could go away.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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