Ketzenberger: Tax reform will take all hands


By John Ketzenberger 12:12 a.m. EDT June 29, 2014

John Ketzenberger, president of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute, a private organization that conducts research on issues from property tax reform to state spending.(Photo: Frank Espich/The Star)

I'll concede the headliners at the recent Indiana Tax Competitiveness and Simplification Conference was a Who's Who of conservative economists and fiscal policy experts.

If the idea was to hammer home Gov. Mike Pence's faith in the ideas of supply-side economist Arthur Laffer and Americans for Tax Reform Founder Grover Norquist, it was mission accomplished.

This is what caught the attention of Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, who leads the House Democrats. "This symposium is nothing more than a class club meeting of board room insiders, Wall Street apologists, and Nineteenth Century economic theorists," noted Pelath in a news release.

Points to Pelath for grabbing attention, but it is unfortunate the headliners siphoned all the attention and caused most Democrats to avoid the conference. It is becoming clear Pence plans to introduce a comprehensive tax reform package in the General Assembly. Look closer at the agenda and you'll notice the rest of the conference included top-notch Hoosier academics and business types talking seriously about how to approach tax reform.

If tax reform is coming, now is the time to parse the issues, do the research and suggest ideas. This is the premise driving the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute's five research projects slated for release this fall and it was the underlying motivation behind the conference organized by the Indiana Department of Revenue and the Office of Management and Budget.

There is little doubt the Democrats who did attend the conference, including Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, and Rep. Steven Stemler, D-Jeffersonville, cringed at some of what they heard. If the administration wants broad support for its plans, however, Tallian, Stemler and other Democrats will be .....

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