Pence agenda includes tax cuts, pre-K vouchers

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.”


  • 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.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.