THIRD HOUSE FORUM
Legislators unhappy with riverboat tax proposal
Monday, March 11, 2013 11:00 AM
Riverboat revenue was the main topic of conversation Saturday at the monthly Third House forum sponsored by the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce.
Senate Bill 528 would allow riverboats to move inland to adjacent property and authorize live-dealer table games such as blackjack, roulette, craps and poker at racinos such as Anderson's Hoosier Park and Shelbyville's Indiana Grand.
The bill would also replace the admissions tax with a supplemental wagering tax.
The change would cut millions of dollars in casino taxes, and reduce by about $40 million a year the amount that counties with riverboat casinos would receive in tax revenue.
If the bill were to pass, Switzerland County could lose about $2 million in revenue, while Jefferson County would lose $150,000.
State Sen. Jim Smith, a Republican who represents Jefferson and Switzerland counties, said he voted against the bill because of the negative impact it would have on the rural counties.
State Rep. Terry Goodin, a Democrat from Austin, said the bill will surely change as it moves through the House because there are more representatives who have casinos in their districts. There will have to be compromises made on this issue, he said.
"Unfortunately, what's going on is they're trying to create a one-size-fits-all solution," Goodin said.
Goodin guessed this bill would come down to negotiations at the end of the session and would likely be combined with other bills related to gambling. Rep. Jim Lucas, a Seymour Republican, said this would be a big issue in the upcoming month.
"This is a huge issue because it's going to impact so many people," Lucas said.
The legislators noted they are at the halfway point of the session and the bills have switched chambers so the other bodies can add amendments to the bill.
Goodin and Lucas, who both voted for the proposed biennial budget, said there were other changes they would have liked to have seen made to the budget, but were willing to make a compromise, including more funding for education.
"Our local schools are getting a very hard hit. Most of that money is going to the doughnut communities around Indianapolis," Goodin said.
The next Third House forum is set for April 6.