Alcohol taxes would double only in Marion County – not the whole state – under a plan advanced by the Indiana Senate yesterday. The Senate made several changes to a bill aimed at rescuing the Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board, which expects to be $47 million short in its operation of the city’s professional sports stadiums and convention center.
Mirroring a proposal suggested by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard on Monday, the revised Senate plan would allow Marion County to raise its alcohol, car rental, hotel and ticket taxes with the extra cash going to the board. But the revised plan wouldn’t double alcohol taxes statewide as previously proposed.
The Senate will likely vote on the revised proposal today. The bill could face other changes as lawmakers try to create a solution for the board before the legislative session ends April 29.
Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) said his previous idea to double alcohol taxes statewide proved unpopular, even though it would have meant only an additional penny added to the price of a beer. Some didn’t like the idea of raising any taxes during a recession, and others considered the tax a solution to an Indianapolis-only problem. The alcohol industry also lobbied hard against the proposal, Kenley said.
The proposed higher alcohol tax in Marion County, which would expire Jan. 1, 2020, may also raise questions. Sen. Vi Simpson (D-Bloomington) wondered how tax collections would work since alcohol taxes are taken in at the wholesale level, not when a person buys a beer at a liquor store or bar.
“This is much more complicated than people realize,” Simpson said.
Kenley said he would continue working on the plan as it moves through the General Assembly. The Senate revisions were meant to mirror a proposal by Ballard.
Ballard’s plan would cut $8 million from the Capital Improvement Board’s budget and ask the Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacers to contribute $5 million each. Neither team has agreed to pay that yet, although officials from both franchises have said they were willing to discuss it.
The plan would also allow the city to impose a parking fee at commercial parking garages, and would expand a local Professional Sports Development Authority district to capture $8.8 million in sales and income taxes that would otherwise go to the state.