IBJNews

Pence plans more charters, road money for 2014

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence plans to spend his second meeting with the General Assembly advancing a legislative agenda centered on expanding the number of charter schools, finding ways to pay for road projects and seeking new tax cuts.

"As we were working through the summer and this fall in developing that agenda, it's about building on the momentum. We're looking at more pro-growth tax relief, particularly focused on encouraging investment in industry in Indiana," Pence told The Associated Press.

Pence talked about his plans for next year during a meeting of The Republican Governors Association in Scottsdale, Ariz. He heads into his second year as governor with strong support from Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate and a handful of victories from his limited agenda during his first year in office.

But he has also had trouble pushing through tax cuts before and is in the midst of a power struggle with Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, which lawmakers have said they might need to clear up. Meanwhile, the fight over amending the state's gay marriage ban into the constitution threatens to distract from other items during next year's two-month-long session.

Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault wouldn't provide specifics of the governor's agenda Thursday, but he's expected to release more details next month. The broad strokes of Pence's plan, however, are similar to what Republican legislative leaders say they want to focus on.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, both said this week they would like to eliminate the state's personal property tax, which is levied on business equipment and machines. Pence did not specify cutting that tax, but hinted at it with his statement about supporting industry.

The state's top lawmakers also said they would like to expand early childhood education, something Pence mentioned as well.

On education, he said he would like to expand the number of charter schools and improve flexibility for teachers who score well on their performance reviews, but did not give specifics. The specifics of the state's education debate have become increasingly important over the past year.

Pence campaigned last year on improving coordination between schools and employers, but never mentioned he would create a new agency to accomplish that. That new agency, which is staffed in part with Ritz's political rivals, has become the focus of the latest education feud.

Winning a tax cut, even in the Republican-dominated General Assembly, could prove tricky as well. David Bottorff, executive director of the Association of Indiana Counties, said there's widespread concern among local leaders that the newest tax-cut proposal could force them to cut more services.

If counties have to make up budget shortfalls caused by the elimination of the personal property tax, they may look to raise taxes elsewhere, including on homeowners, he said.

"There's more and more stress on the system, because people don't want to have to pay the tax," he said.

But Pence and legislative leaders could sweeten the pot for local leaders with more funding for roads and new transportation projects.

"We have a blue ribbon panel that I set up to plan the future of transportation in Indiana, 25 years out, 50 years out. But we're also going to look for resources to plow back into infrastructure in the short term," Pence said.

Lawmakers made some significant changes to the tax code earlier this year, which helped add funding for roads, but the state still needs something close to $2 billion annually to maintain roads and construct new ones, said David Holt, vice president of Conexus Indiana.

Lawmakers have already floated the idea of looking at how to collect taxes not based on gasoline consumption, but based on the number of miles driven by each car. They also will have a raft of recommended projects come in from Pence's transportation group to consider for funding.

Holt, who is also working with Pence's transportation panel, cautioned that some ideas may only be discussed during the upcoming session, and acted on during the 2015 budget-writing session.

"It's an incredibly important debate," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Mute point
    Fuel consumption is influenced by the mileage you drive. The more you drive, the more fuel you consume. While electric vehicles do not consume fuel, they are a small percentage of market share in Indiana. I do like your point of taxing larger vehicles more because their weight causes more wear and tear on the roads.
  • No mile tax
    For now, the per-mile tax is a terrible idea. It wouldn't be a good idea unless 70% of all cars are electric. If you argue that pickup trucks cause more wear and tear on the road so they should be taxed per mile, you're wrong. 90% of pickup trucks have street tires and don't weight enough to tear up the road with the tires. However, I wouldn't mind having a mile tax for semi-trucks (but we need to make sure that it won't stop trucks from driving through the state.)
  • mileage tax
    I think it makes a lot of sense to start taxing people by the # of miles they drive as opposed to the number of gallons of gas they use. More and more people are getting electric cars. Should they not be taxed for using our roads? Taxing by mileage seems like a fair usage charge. (And bigger vehicles like trucks should be charged more per mile that they drive because they cause more wear and tear on the roads -- a LOT more.)
    • BIG thinking
      "We have a blue ribbon panel that I set up to plan the future of transportation in Indiana, 25 years out, 50 years out. But we're also going to look for resources to plow back into infrastructure in the short term," Pence said. New ideas include making sure no driveway is more than 30 feet away from a four lane highway.
    • What now?
      "Lawmakers have already floated the idea of looking at how to collect taxes not based on gasoline consumption, but based on the number of miles driven by each car." In the big book of bad ideas, I think this was on the first page.

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    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
    ADVERTISEMENT

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
     
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. A Tilted Kilt at a water park themed hotel? Who planned that one? I guess the Dad's need something to do while the kids are on the water slides.

    2. Don't come down on the fair for offering drinks. This is a craft and certainly one that belongs in agriculture due to ingredients. And for those worrying about how much you can drink. I'm sure it's more to do with liability than anything else. They don't want people suing for being over served. If you want a buzz, do a little pre-drinking before you go.

    3. I don't drink but go into this "controlled area" so my friend can drink. They have their 3 drink limit and then I give my friend my 3 drink limit. How is the fair going to control this very likely situation????

    4. I feel the conditions of the alcohol sales are a bit heavy handed, but you need to realize this is the first year in quite some time that beer & wine will be sold at the fair. They're starting off slowly to get a gauge on how it will perform this year - I would assume if everything goes fine that they relax some of the limits in the next year or couple of years. That said, I think requiring the consumption of alcohol to only occur in the beer tent is a bit much. That is going to be an awkward situation for those with minors - "Honey, I'm getting a beer... Ok, sure go ahead... Alright see you in just a min- half an hour."

    5. This might be an effort on the part of the State Fair Board to manage the risk until they get a better feel for it. However, the blanket notion that alcohol should not be served at "family oriented" events is perhaps an oversimplification. and not too realistic. For 15 years, I was a volunteer at the Indianapolis Air Show, which was as family oriented an event as it gets. We sold beer donated by Monarch Beverage Company and served by licensed and trained employees of United Package Liquors who were unpaid volunteers. And where did that money go? To central Indiana children's charities, including Riley Hospital for Children! It's all about managing the risk.

    ADVERTISEMENT