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Indiana House GOP makes no guarantees on tax cuts

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Tax cuts being pushed by gubernatorial candidates are hardly guaranteed a rubber stamp from lawmakers, and a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage could win quick approval next year, Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said Thursday as he rolled out his caucus's 2013 agenda.

Republican Mike Pence has called for cutting the personal income tax by 10 percent, and Democrat John Gregg has called for removing the sales tax on gasoline and abolishing the corporate income tax for Indiana-based companies.

But Bosma cautioned that the state had already committed to eliminating the inheritance tax and any new cut would have to consider the long-term implications for the state, not the short-term popularity of campaign promises.

"I stopped the last governor from raising taxes, which he felt from a short-term view needed to happen, but we were convinced the state could get through two budget cycles without a tax increase and that's the way it turned out. And I've been thanked a couple of times," Bosma said of Gov. Mitch Daniels' effort to raise the income tax on high-earners when he first took office.

Bosma also said Thursday he "wouldn't be shocked" if lawmakers sign off on a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage next year. An affirmative vote by the Legislature would place the issue before voters in 2014. Indiana already defines marriage as between one man and one woman, but supporters argue it would further cement the law by inscribing it in the state's constitution.

The House Republican agenda generally calls for increasing school access—something Bosma said could include expanding access to school vouchers—and improving vocational training.

Bosma gestured to signs behind him that read "Education" and "Jobs" and said, "If we're not talking about these two issues, I guess the question is 'Are we on things that are important for the future?' "

But he declined to take social issues off the table for 2013, saying he would respect the will of his members. Such issues, including defunding Planned Parenthood and revoking specialty license plates for an Indianapolis gay youth group, have increasingly pushed aside fiscal issues in the Statehouse.

Senate Republicans also worked this year on a measure to teach creationism in public schools and are expected to consider a similar measure in 2013.

Rep. Scott Pelath, Michigan City Democrat, said social issues will be front and center next year, despite their absence from the written agenda.

"The translation is he has chairmen that will not be able to help themselves and he will not stand in their way," Pelath said of Bosma.

The House Republicans' presentation followed shortly after Daniels announced Thursday the state would be paying in $360 billion into various public employee pension funds.

Daniels said Thursday that $207 million will be invested in teacher pensions, along with $90 million toward judges' pensions and $32 million for police pensions. The state closed its latest budget with roughly $2.2 billion in cash reserves. The state's automatic taxpayer refund mandates that $720 million of that money be split between returns to taxpayers and state pension funds.

Daniels dismissed concerns about the teachers' fund Thursday, but Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, a Noblesville Republican, noted the problem will easily cost the state billions of dollars.

State pension officials told lawmakers this year the teacher pension payouts could begin costing the state $1 billion a year in about a decade. State Budget Director Adam Horst noted Thursday the state already pays roughly $750 million annually to teachers hired before 1996 and is well-positioned to handle future increases.

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  • Huh?
    So, the party should be concerned about jobs and education and yet they are going to get bogged down in social issues instead? Again I want Mr. Pence, Mr. Bosma, and others to help me understand how they want to be the people of reduced government that is also the people of government intrusion into personal lives.
  • saving money
    If Indiana wanted to save some money here are a few good ways. Fire lazy workers. Useless workers. Cut pay on most state employees. Stop wasteless spending. Cut tax on the poor raise tax on the rich after all the poor made the rich, rich. Use tobacco tax money and stop spending millions telling people to quit smoking adults know the risk. Use your brain understand what's important and what is not.
  • Good grief...
    So, the Indiana GOP is making no promises about doing things that may help the economy of the state, but is all too happy to do things that will further reduce Indiana's ability to recruit young professionals? This is why split government is best, with each party controlling a separate house...

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  1. You are correct that Obamacare requires health insurance policies to include richer benefits and protects patients who get sick. That's what I was getting at when I wrote above, "That’s because Obamacare required insurers to take all customers, regardless of their health status, and also established a floor on how skimpy the benefits paid for by health plans could be." I think it's vital to know exactly how much the essential health benefits are costing over previous policies. Unless we know the cost of the law, we can't do a cost-benefit analysis. Taxes were raised in order to offset a 31% rise in health insurance premiums, an increase that paid for richer benefits. Are those richer benefits worth that much or not? That's the question we need to answer. This study at least gets us started on doing so.

  2. *5 employees per floor. Either way its ridiculous.

  3. Jim, thanks for always ready my stuff and providing thoughtful comments. I am sure that someone more familiar with research design and methods could take issue with Kowalski's study. I thought it was of considerable value, however, because so far we have been crediting Obamacare for all the gains in coverage and all price increases, neither of which is entirely fair. This is at least a rigorous attempt to sort things out. Maybe a quixotic attempt, but it's one of the first ones I've seen try to do it in a sophisticated way.

  4. In addition to rewriting history, the paper (or at least your summary of it) ignores that Obamacare policies now must provide "essential health benefits". Maybe Mr Wall has always been insured in a group plan but even group plans had holes you could drive a truck through, like the Colts defensive line last night. Individual plans were even worse. So, when you come up with a study that factors that in, let me know, otherwise the numbers are garbage.

  5. You guys are absolutely right: Cummins should build a massive 80-story high rise, and give each employee 5 floors. Or, I suppose they could always rent out the top floors if they wanted, since downtown office space is bursting at the seams (http://www.ibj.com/article?articleId=49481).

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