Local Government
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The Indiana General Assembly is in session, and the House has proposed a budget for the 2017-19 biennium. It includes a $1 increase in the cigarette tax, raising the rate to $1.995 per pack. It may or may not pass, the Senate may or may not agree, and the governor will have to weigh in, too. Still, there's sure to be debate. So let's look at some facts about the cigarette tax.
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The General Assembly is in session, and the big issue this year looks to be road funding. How will we raise the additional $1 billion or more that we need to maintain our roads?
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Forecasting is hard. It's a guess about the future. You try to make an informed, internally consistent guess - but the operative word is "guess." People make plans based on your forecast. And then comes the embarrassing moment when the future becomes the present and they see how wrong you were.
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Ten Indiana school districts offered property tax referenda on November 8, to finance buildings or budgets. That was the most for a November election since 2010. More referenda are offered during elections in May, probably because 69 percent of all May referenda have passed since 2010. Only 39 percent of November referenda have passed in that time. On November 8, 2016, nine out of 10 school referenda passed. It was a November surprise. Why did it happen?
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The Indiana General Assembly revised the farmland assessment formula during its 2016 session. Let's figure out what that might do to farmland assessments and property taxes.
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Interest rates are low. The 10-year Treasury bond rate, which forecasters use as a benchmark, averaged 1.6 percent in August. That's the third lowest monthly rate in the past 20 years. The 30-year home mortgage rate averaged 3.4 percent in August. That's the fifth lowest rate in the past 20 years.
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Our economic expansion started in July 2009, so it's 70 months old and counting. Since the end of World War II, the average expansion has lasted 58 months. That makes our expansion a whole year older than average. Is ours an elderly expansion, about to enter the December of its years? Are its days numbered?

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