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Pence seeks tax cut; Gregg equal pay for women

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence proposed a fiscal plan Tuesday that would cut income taxes while locking in tight spending levels set by Gov. Mitch Daniels and state lawmakers during the recession.

Pence estimates the measure would cost the state roughly $533 million a year and eat up much of an assumed cash surplus over the next two years. Pence added that the additional money from the surplus should be banked in the state's savings.

"I think the next governor of Indiana has to say no to government and yes to taxpayers," Pence said Tuesday, after detailing his proposal in a speech to the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce.

Tax cuts have long been talked about in the governor's race. Democrat John Gregg's first detailed proposal, released in April, called for eliminating the state's sales tax on gasoline, which is levied in addition to the state's gas tax. Gregg later called for eliminating the corporate income tax on businesses physically headquartered in Indiana.

"We've been talking about tax cuts for months so we're happy to see the congressman has joined us," Gregg said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, Gregg said he would promote equal pay for women by honoring businesses that pay equally with a designation from the state, create new opportunities for those businesses and establish a hotline to report suspected pay discrimination.

Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham plans to release his tax plan "in the coming weeks," said campaign manager Evan McMahon.

"Rupert's plan will do more than save the average Hoosier worker $2-4 a week, Pence's plan won't even get you a weekly $5 foot-long (sandwich) for lunch," McMahon said.

Any of the candidates' proposals to cut taxes next year would build off of the state's cash reserves, estimated at $2.2 billion, and an expected surplus of roughly $500 million a year. The state already returns a certain portion of cash reserves to taxpayers and to the state teacher pension fund to pay down unfunded liabilities, but Pence's plan would overtake both those measures.

Conservative governors in Oklahoma and Kansas have struggled to push more income tax cut through their statehouses. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin attempted without success to eliminate the state's income tax, while Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback won a rollback of the income tax but could not find the votes to approve the series of tax maneuvers he said would pay for the cut.

Additional pressure will be on Indiana lawmakers to restore education cuts made during the recession to the next biennial budget and find new ways to pay for transportation projects as money from Daniels' leasing of the Indiana Toll Road dwindles.

"Clearly, we've got a problem of funding our transportation maintenance budget. And Indiana being the crossroads of America, that's pretty critical thing to keep funded," said Senate budget leader Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville.

Kenley questioned the Pence campaign's estimate that the state will continue to see a budget surplus over the next few years. He noted that surpluses and deficits are fleeting and can disappear depending on how the economy performs.

The Pence campaign built its estimates assuming Indiana's tax collections improve by 2.5 percent each year, while they assume spending would increase by 1.5 percent annually.

State budget leaders are scheduled in December to get a set of new economic forecasts, which will be the starting point for writing Indiana's next budget.

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  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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