INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb set a July 6 date for a special session for lawmakers to take action on his plan to give $225 payments to Indiana taxpayers struggling with inflation and high gas prices.
The governor signed a proclamation Wednesday calling the General Assembly into the special session.
“This is the fastest, fairest and most efficient way to return taxpayers’ hard-earned money during a time of economic strain,” Holcomb said in a statement. “Indiana’s economy is growing and with more than $1 billion of revenue over current projections, Hoosier taxpayers deserve to have their money responsibly returned. I’m happy to be able to take this first step and look forward to signing this plan into law as soon as possible.”
Earlier this month, Holcomb unveiled a plan to return $1 billion from the state reserves to Hoosier taxpayers. As a result, taxpayers would receive about $225 each while couples who filed jointly would receive $450.
The money is due to high-than-expected revenue performance during the fiscal year. When combined with the Automatic Taxpayer Refund (ATR), individual taxpayers would end up getting a total of about $350 while couples would receive $700.
While most of the money would be distributed via direct deposit, some Hoosiers would receive a check in the mail. Holcomb previously said he planned to call a special session before the end of June.
House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) issued a statement in support of the special session:
“Our goal is to take action to provide inflation relief to Hoosier taxpayers as our state and nation continue to see the price of gas, and everyday goods and services climb to record heights. The state’s strong fiscal health positions us to responsibly use the state’s reserves to quickly return money back to taxpayers.”
The Indiana Democratic Party responded with a statement suggesting the special session would be used for more than the economic plan:
Happening in July: The Indiana Republican Party will hold a special session to issue a one-time check that doesn’t address the state’s high gas taxes and ban a woman’s right to legal and safe abortions. As seen from last weekend, the Indiana GOP has become the Party of extremists who care more about their national agenda than delivering a better future for Hoosier families.
State Rep. Gregory W. Porter, who represents District 96 in Indianapolis, is asking the governor and his fellow legislators to make sure residents on Social Security receive the payments, including those who are retired, disabled or on Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Porter wrote a letter to the governor as well as House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tempore to point out that all Hoosiers are feeling the pinch because of inflation and rising gas prices.
“Every Hoosier, regardless of tax status, is paying sales tax and feeling the brunt of heightened prices at the grocery store and gas pump right now,” Porter said. “By agreeing to return for a special session to give Hoosiers their money back, we’ve already acknowledged this. So let’s make good on that by including residents on disability, Social Security and SSI on this $225 payment.”
Porter said retired and disabled Hoosiers shouldn’t have to worry about making ends meet.
Last month, Republicans rejected calls from Democrats to suspend Indiana’s gas tax for at least three months, citing concerns over cutting taxes for out-of-state visitors. Next month, Indiana’s gas tax will reach a record high of 62 cents per gallon.
Economists say a tax refund would likely have a bigger impact on Hoosiers.
“As a general rule, if you think of when the gas tax goes down, about half of that gets passed on to the consumer,” said Kyle Anderson, an economist with the IU Kelley School of Business.
Anderson said that’s because producers often continue to raise their prices.
Still, Statehouse Democrats are continuing their push for both the tax refund and the suspension of the state’s gas tax.
“Some savings is better than no savings,” Porter said.
President Joe Biden is calling on states to suspend their gas taxes.
“[Indiana] Senate Republicans continue to work on how to provide meaningful relief in response to the financial hardships Hoosiers are facing,” a spokesperson for the Indiana Senate Republican caucus said in a statement.