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Legislators Address Local Government Reform Report

On Tuesday, a blue-ribbon commission evaluating the efficiency of local government in Indiana called for reducing or abolishing township government.

A blue-ribbon commission evaluating the efficiency of local government in Indiana announced its recommendations Tuesday. The panel chaired by former Governor Joe Kernan and Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard is called, in part, “We’ve Got to Stop Governing Like This.”

The report called for reducing or abolishing township government. Governor Mitch Daniels has already called for the elimination of township assessors, and the state Senate has begun committee hearings on the idea. With Daniels proposing that the state take over school funding, House Speaker Patrick Bauer and other leaders agree the report will set the debate over government reform, but won’t carry so much weight that legislators embrace it unquestioningly. Bauer also says the idea of abolishing township assessors has a lot more momentum this session.

Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Chairman Luke Kenley says with the intense focus on property taxes, government restructuring might not be enacted until 2009 or later. But Kenley says the report may influence the shape of a tax-relief package. He says the final product might make a streamlined local government structure a more attractive option.

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