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Northern Indiana Coalition of Chambers 2016 Legislative Positions

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Northern Indiana
Coalition of Chambers
2016 Legislative Positions

The Northern Indiana Coalition of Chambers works together on issues of importance to the Northern Indiana Region.  The Six-County coalition has identified these four Regional priorities for the 2016 Legislative session:

Transportation and Infrastructure funding
Indiana’s transportation system is facing a funding crisis. The costs of road building and maintenance continue to increase, while an adequate funding stream has not been found. At the same time, vital projects like the completion of US 31, remain in limbo. Lawmakers must address the funding shortfall for state and local projects and maintenance. Unless a better funding source can be identified, lawmakers must adopt any or all of the proven funding streams. Among the local priorities are:
  • Support increasing the state fuel tax and indexing for inflation.
  • Support that all money raised through fuel tax is directed to construction, repair and maintenance of roads and highways rather than being directed to the general fund.
  • Support the completion of US-31 to a limited access highway between Indianapolis and South Bend.
  • Support the upgrade of US-30 to freeway status.
  • Support improvement of US-33 from Fort Wayne to the US-20 Bypass, including passing lanes at key bottleneck points.  
  • Support additional studies and funding for the South Shore Rail Line to reduce travel time between North Central Indiana and Chicago.
  • Support additional funding to enhance and expand air service and facilities at the South Bend International Airport.
  • Support tolling of other limited access highways throughout Indiana to generate new revenue for construction, repair and maintenance of State’s transportation network.

Local government funding
Return the home-rule concept to Indiana government. If the legislature determines a local funding option is good for one community, it should be available to all communities. When thorough public debate has happened, local governments should be allowed to determine the source, the duration and expenditure of local taxation without seeking additional approval from the state or federal government. Specifically:
  • Grant all Indiana communities the same local revenue producing options currently granted to only a few. A local food and beverage tax is an example of a local tax used by some communities, but not available to all.
  • Uncouple the state-mandated use of the local option income taxes by empowering local governments to identify the area of greatest need.
  • As options for reducing tax impacts are reviewed by state government (such as Business Personal Property Tax repeal), state government should also ensure that comparable replacement revenues are included in the tax relief package.
  • Provide more transparency in collection of local income taxes to ensure all revenues return to the County of origin. Alternatively, let the local government collect the tax, like they do with the wheel tax.

Education and Workforce Development
  • Support re-evaluating the A-F Grading of schools in Indiana
  • Ensure that private and or charter schools receiving public funds adhere to the same regulations and admission requirements as public schools.
  • Provide for state testing for Career Ready Expectations.
  • Support maintaining access to a strong dual credit systems in Indiana High Schools.

Economic Development
  • Support the continued focus and expansion of the Regional Cities initiative as a tool for enhancements throughout the state
  • Support the protection of economic development tools and innovative programs such as tax increment financing (TIF) districts, enterprise zones, and tax phase-in’s  for local government entities
  • Support the expansion of high quality broadband internet connectivity to rural areas while maintaining affordability.
  • Support the vital RV industry by removing harmful barriers to fair competition, like the Indiana sales tax charged to out-of-state customers.
The Northern Indiana Chamber Coalition is a Coalition of Chambers of Commerce from Elkhart, Kosciusko, La Porte, Marshall, St. Joseph, and Starke Counties in North Central Indiana.

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