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State Rep. Dennie Oxley I, D-Taswell, left, and State Sen. Richard Young, D-Milltown, speak Saturday at the Crawford County Judicial Complex. (Photo by Nick Simpson)

Oxley, Young speak at Third House meeting

March 04, 2009
Saturday morning, State Rep. Dennie Oxley I, D-Taswell, and State Sen. Richard Young, D-Milltown, spoke at the Crawford County Judicial Complex and fielded a few questions from audience members at the county's Third House meeting. Each speaker was allowed 15 minutes before taking questions.

Oxley spoke first and went over bills that the House passed during this session that he supported. The first bill he mentioned was HB 1656, the state budget.

The House passed a budget of $1 billion for one year, dubbing it the state's own stimulus package. It allocates $500 million to counties and $500 million to cities and towns. Crawford County, including the amount for the county and the individual towns, would get $2.38 million total, Oxley said, adding that his District 73 as a whole would receive $50 million.

Oxley said the state currently has a $1.4 billion "Rainy Day Fund" that Gov. Daniels doesn't want to touch. Oxley said he disagrees with the governor, and mentioned the proposed budget uses only $200 million of the reserve. He described the budget as a stimulus that uses "Indiana materials and Indiana workers" for building and repairing infrastructure across the state.

This is the first year since 1975 that the House has passed a one-year budget instead of a two-year budget. Oxley credited it to economic uncertainty.

Oxley also addressed a number of other bills. Among them were:

•HB 1338, which involves tax abatements. Oxley said this bill will allow the Indiana Economic Development Corp. to go after companies that leave the area after receiving tax abatements in order to get the taxpayers' money back.

•HB 1656, which would require contractors and subcontractors to employ at least 90 percent Indiana residents on public works projects awarded by state or local government.

"It's designed to put 50,000 Hoosiers back to work," Oxley said. "That seems like a lot, but about 270,000 are unemployed right now."

•HB 1472, which would eliminate the office of management and budget at the state level, creating a savings of $1 million a year, Oxley said. The functions of the office would be transferred to the state budget agency.

"Gov. Daniels wants government reform," Oxley said. "I think reform should come from the top-down instead of the bottom-up."

The House also passed House Joint Resolution 0006, which would combine the offices of state auditor and state treasurer into the office of state controller, Oxley said.

Young, who said it was nice to get an update on what's going on in the House, spoke about the property tax caps passed last year. In a Senate Joint Resolution, Republican senators proposed an amendment to the Indiana Constitution that would make these caps permanent. He said he was one of 16 senators who voted against the resolution.

He added he is generally not anxious to add amendments to the constitution and that he wanted to give the caps some time to see how they work.

Senate Joint Resolution 7 would have created a constitutional amendment to remove the county offices of recorder, treasurer, coroner and surveyor. Young said he voted against the unsuccessful resolution.

Young said in the past he has supported removing them from the constitution as a way to remove term limits and allow voters to vote as many times as they want for people serving in these offices. He explained this resolution is an attempt to completely eliminate the offices.

The controversial Kernan-Shepard legislation concerning county government was detailed in SB 452. Under the bill, all counties, except for Lake and Marion, can have a referendum this year to keep their present form of government. The referendum would have to take place between Oct. 1 and Nov. 15, Young said.

Young added that if there is no referendum or if citizens vote to change their county government, the county council must adopt a resolution to either appoint a CEO of the county to replace the commissioners, set up a nine-member board of supervisors to run the county in place of commissioners and council or put the choice of the two on the 2010 ballot.

He said he voted against this legislation because there already are laws on the books for counties to change their governments and he opposed forcing them to change.

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