Otis Bowen will go down in history as the governor who delivered landmark property tax relief to Hoosiers. He also deserves mention for what happened on Mitch Daniels’ watch: a tax reform amendment to the state Constitution.
Relief is “lightening of something oppressive,” according to Merriam-Webster. Reform is “correction of an abuse or wrong.” The first tends to be temporary, the latter more permanent.
That’s why Bowen lobbied for the Daniels tax plan in 2008 in response to another property taxpayer rebellion. It was necessary, Bowen said, to finish the work he’d begun in 1973.
Bowen’s death on May 4 generated scores of headlines recalling the tax crisis in the 1970s that led to the relief for which he is fondly remembered. Property taxes had doubled in the previous decade so candidate Bowen made “visible, lasting and substantial” cuts his top campaign issue.