Pence ‘very disappointed’ by House GOP budget plan

A state budget plan unveiled by Indiana House Republicans on Friday would swap a $500 million tax cut sought by Gov. Mike Pence for new spending on education and transportation, bringing a rebuke from the Republican governor.

The two-year budget proposal would increase K-12 funding by 2 percent the first year and 1 percent the second year.

It also would boost transportation spending $250 million a year by using all of Indiana's gas tax on roads projects for the first time. The GOP proposal also would pay for State Police, Bureau of Motor Vehicles and some Department of Natural Resources expenses through Indiana's general fund.

Republican House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown says the House hasn't ruled out the Pence tax cut. But approving it would mean slashing priorities the House GOP pays for in its plan.

Pence responded Friday by deriding Republicans' plan, saying he was "very disappointed" with the move and will "protect taxpayers" from the House GOP plan in ongoing budget negotiations.

In a surprise move later Friday morning, Pence closed his Statehouse office for "out of office staff meetings." A Pence spokeswoman did not immediately return an email or phone call seeking an explanation Friday morning. Friday is neither a state nor federal holiday and most other Statehouse employees showed up to work.

And the Republican governor is winning a strange bedfellow in the process: Democratic House Minority Leader Scott Pelath.

Pelath said Friday the House should vote on Pence's $500 million proposed cut to Indiana's personal income tax. He vigorously denied that his stance was a political move to back House Republicans into a corner.

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