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. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.