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Pence agenda includes tax cuts, pre-K vouchers

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Gov. Mike Pence will ask lawmakers in 2014 to cut more than $1 billion in taxes for businesses, parents and individuals and spend hundreds of millions more on roads, workforce development and preschool for poor Hoosier children.

But in an address at the BGD Legislative Conference in Indianapolis Thursday, the governor steered clear of any details—including how he would pay for his proposals—saying he’ll provide more specifics in the coming weeks. His speech came just after some legislative fiscal leaders had expressed skepticism about too much new spending.

“Our intention today was to lay out a very bold agenda for the upcoming session of the General Assembly,” Pence said. The goal was to begin “with policies that will increase employment in Indiana and also increase private sector investment.”

“I hope this gives you all something to think about and something to talk about,” he said during the conference, where lawmakers and lobbyists were gathered for a pre-session event.

The day included sessions with legislative leaders and fiscal experts, some of whom had warned they were unlikely to spend much new money in 2014, a so-called short session. The state’s two-year budgets are created during long-sessions, which will next take place in 2015.

House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, said his mantra for the session has been “don’t open the budget.” House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said, “As I look at the scope of these proposals, I wonder how he plans to reconcile new spending with his own reputation as a rabid fiscal conservative.”

And Sen. Ryan Mishler, a Bremen Republican who serves on both tax and appropriations committees, said the state should probably have even more in the bank than the $2 billion cash surplus it currently boasts.

But Pence said lawmakers should act now.

The Republican said phasing out the personal property tax—a tax on business equipment—will be a key part of his agenda. But he provided no details about how local governments would deal with $1 billion in lost revenue, which is used to fund cities, counties, schools, libraries and other local services.

The governor said he will seek to “ensure that this reform does not unduly harm local government.” And he said lawmakers could approve a phase out of the tax and decide in future years how to replace the lost revenue, something he said would be more of a “tax reform” than a tax increase.

But Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, said that absent identifying a revenue source for local government, “we’ve got to be cautious” about eliminating the personal property tax.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said his caucus will also propose cuts in the personal property tax but he said the plan will likely give local officials some discretion. He said the plan’s details are yet to be worked out but lawmakers could approach the issue like they did the elimination of the inventory tax.

In that case, lawmakers launched a phase out the inventory tax but also gave local officials the opportunity to eliminate it more quickly. That law also let local raise income taxes to help make up the lost revenue.

Pelath called the personal property tax plan a “corporate giveaways” that “is going to end up hurting families.”

Pence also said he will ask lawmakers to create a voucher program to help needy Hoosier children go to preschool, although he did not say how it would be funded.

“The time has come for Indiana to provide access to pre-kindergarten for all the disadvantaged children in our state,” Pence said. “It’s time for us to give our most disadvantaged kids a better chance at success.”

His plan would make vouchers available to children in families with household incomes of up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which is currently $43,567 for a family of four. Children could use those vouchers to attend a private or public preschool program that met state standards, he said.

Pence did not say how much the plan voucher plan would cost or how it would be funded.

Preschool is expected to be a priority for some Republicans and Democrats as well, although fiscal leaders in the House and Senate have expressed concern about the costs.

Brown said Thursday that lawmakers could put a preschool structure in place that determines who qualifies for the program. Then, he said, “it can be funded in a budget year.” That would be 2015.

Pence said he will also ask lawmakers to:

— Release $400 million in transportation money the General Assembly set aside last year for future road projects.

— Index the state’s $1,000 personal exemption and $1,500 dependent child exemptions to inflation, meaning they would increase over time to save individuals and parents more money.

— Streamline adoptions in Indiana.

— Develop a plan to raise public and private sector money to boost development in the state’s cities.

— Create an Indiana Teacher Innovation Fund to promote classroom innovation.

Pence said the changes are necessary to keep the state competitive in the race for economic development and job growth.

“We will rise to this challenge because the people of Indiana are the best people on earth,” Pence said. “They deserve nothing less.”

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  • Bugs bunny
    One the words of bugs bunny, what an embessall what an ultra maroon!!!
  • What universe?
    I wonder what universe he's REALLY living in? Certainly not one that mere mortals inhabit!
  • Lofty Goals With No Beef
    The Governor again espouses lofty goals with no details as to how the goals are to be achieved. After a campaign and a year in office he is still recycling many of the same ideas. How he can continue to call for tax cuts and yet improve the quality of Hoosier lives with new programs is a mystery to me. Seems as though he is still in his talk show and "tea party talk" modes.
  • Details
    Details to come later.....or never. Let's cut the tax with no obvious way to pay for it and call it reform. Just a political stepping stone for Pence. This is no better than the college coach that breaks all the rules to win in year one, then leave to take a higher paying job leaving the university to pick up the pieces. Sounds like he is wanting to leave a crap sandwich for his successor.
  • Do not treat us like idiots !
    More hocus pocus from the Republicans. It has not worked yet and it will not work in the future. Ask Tony Bennett he can fill you in.
  • fuzzy math
    Let's remove $1 billion in lost revenue, which is used to fund cities, counties, schools, libraries and other local services...but ensure that this reform does not unduly harm local government. *facepalm*
  • fuzzy math
    Let's remove $1 billion in tax revenue $1 billion in lost revenue, which is used to fund cities, counties, schools, libraries and other local services...but ensure that this reform does not unduly harm local government. *facepalm*
  • Unbelieveable
    Republicans won't stop until local governments cease to exist. Step-by-step, they are removing power from the citizens of this state to put into the hands of a very select few in the political realm.
  • Spend more, tax less
    Faith-based government at its best.

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  1. Of what value is selling alcoholic beverages to State Fair patrons when there are many families with children attending. Is this the message we want to give children attending and participating in the Fair, another venue with alooholic consumption onsite. Is this to promote beer and wine production in the state which are great for the breweries and wineries, but where does this end up 10-15 years from now, lots more drinkers for the alcoholic contents. If these drinks are so important, why not remove the alcohol content and the flavor and drink itself similar to soft drinks would be the novelty, not the alcoholic content and its affects on the drinker. There is no social or material benefit from drinking alcoholic beverages, mostly people want to get slightly or highly drunk.

  2. I did;nt know anyone in Indiana could count- WHY did they NOT SAY just HOW this would be enforced? Because it WON;T! NOW- with that said- BIG BROTHER is ALIVE in this Article-why take any comment if it won't appease YOU PEOPLE- that's NOT American- with EVERYTHING you indicated is NOT said-I can see WHY it say's o Comments- YOU are COMMIES- BIG BROTHER and most likely- voted for Obama!

  3. In Europe there are schools for hairdressing but you don't get a license afterwards but you are required to assist in turkey and Italy its 7 years in japan it's 10 years England 2 so these people who assist know how to do hair their not just anybody and if your an owner and you hire someone with no experience then ur an idiot I've known stylist from different countries with no license but they are professional clean and safe they have no license but they have experience a license doesn't mean anything look at all the bad hairdressers in the world that have fried peoples hair okay but they have a license doesn't make them a professional at their job I think they should get rid of it because stateboard robs stylist and owners and they fine you for the dumbest f***ing things oh ur license isn't displayed 100$ oh ur wearing open toe shoes fine, oh there's ONE HAIR IN UR BRUSH that's a fine it's like really? So I think they need to go or ease up on their regulations because their too strict

  4. Exciting times in Carmel.

  5. Twenty years ago when we moved to Indy I was a stay at home mom and knew not very many people.WIBC was my family and friends for the most part. It was informative, civil, and humerous with Dave the KING. Terri, Jeff, Stever, Big Joe, Matt, Pat and Crumie. I loved them all, and they seemed to love each other. I didn't mind Greg Garrison, but I was not a Rush fan. NOW I can't stand Chicks and all their giggly opinions. Tony Katz is to abrasive that early in the morning(or really any time). I will tune in on Saturday morning for the usual fun and priceless information from Pat and Crumie, mornings it will be 90.1

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