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Lawmakers weigh pros and cons of differing inflation relief bills

Posted at 8:29 PM, Jul 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-26 20:29:52-04

INDIANAPOLIS — While abortion legislation has made up a large chunk of attention from the current Special Session, inflation relief is still being discussed by local lawmakers.

Inflation relief was the reason the special session was called in the first place.

Currently, two different bills are on the table.

House Bill 10-01 would give Hoosier taxpayers an automatic $225 refund. On Tuesday, this bill passed a House committee. It heads to the full house now.

If this plan eventually becomes law, tax-exempt residents would have to file a claim to receive the money.

During testimony about the plan, the Indiana Department of Revenue expressed concerns about the bill, saying 50% of qualified Hoosiers haven’t even received the first $125 tax refund which was approved in May.

“I am concerned that the first check that was approved a few months ago did not arrive at the mailboxes for all Hoosiers,” Senator Fady Qaddoura (D) said. “I am concerned about the timeliness of sending more money to Hoosiers.”

For the other proposal, Qaddoura explains that the state gas tax would be capped at 29.5 cents per gallon until June 2023. Currently, the state gas tax is 61 center per gallon.

The bill would also suspend the tax on residential utilities for six months.

Ball State University economist Michael Hicks favors the Senate bill which would suspend taxes.

“The Senate bill is a much better policy than the House bill,” Hicks said. “The $225 repayment is a stimulus because adding a stimulus back to the state economy at a time of unusually high inflation simply adds to the problem that brought us inflation in the first case.”

State Representative Justin Moed said there will likely be compromises, but the end goal is the same – helping Hoosiers.

“The state is sitting on over a $1 billion in surplus,” Moed said. “Which could be $7 billion by the end of the year. We need to make sure Hoosiers get some relief because of high gas prices and inflation.”

As testimony wraps up in the Senate chambers, lawmakers will take today’s discussions into consideration.

Amendments can be made later this week.

A vote must be made by August 14. Since the bills are different, lawmakers expect there will likely be a compromise.