INDIANAPOLIS — From the gas station to the grocery store and every place in between, Hoosiers are paying more and they’re feeling it.
Gas prices are expected to go even higher this summer.
“Whether it’s family vacations, going to work, going to church … I’m hearing from constituents that this is causing them to really pinch on their family budgets,” said Representative Terri Austin, D-Anderson. “We don’t know when this is going to stop.”
As lawmakers debate how to provide relief, Austin said Indiana is sitting on a projected $6 billion surplus, and Hoosiers should get a share of that back.
“I think everything ought to be on the table at this point,” she said.
Austin and fellow Democrats have been pushing to suspend Indiana's gas tax, but the Republican majority hasn’t budged.
"Trying to get money back into Hoosiers’ hands, that’s not a great way to do it,” Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said last week when lawmakers returned to the Statehouse for technical corrections day.
Bray instead pointed to the billion dollars in tax cuts lawmakers approved during their last legislative session, including $125 automatic taxpayer refund checks. Legislators also eliminated the utility receipts tax and voted to reduce the individual income tax.
“Those are the kinds of things we’re doing to try and help Hoosiers across the state right now,” said Bray.
“[But] I would remind people that the income tax reduction doesn’t fully take effect until, what is it, 2029?” Austin said. “People can’t wait that long.”
Austin said the state can afford to do more now — in the form of another automatic refund.
“Even if we end up giving people $300 to $500. Say we break it up into two payments spread over three to six months,” she said.
House Speaker Todd Huston said last week that they were keeping the options open.
“We are always about sending more money back to Hoosiers and we’re going to watch the revenue forecast and when revenue comes in the next couple of months and if we have the opportunity to come back and do that, we will do it,” said Huston.
“This should not be a partisan issue,” said Austin. “We know [Hoosiers] are hurting and they deserve a solution.”
Last week, Gov. Eric Holcomb said he was working on an “inflationary relief plan” but didn’t provide details.