INDIANAPOLIS – Republican Gov. Mike Pence pitched his controversial tax cut to lawmakers in his first State of the State speech Tuesday night, saying it would help create jobs and provide relief for Indiana families.
Gov. Mike Pence told lawmakers in his State of the State address on Tuesday that an income tax cut would bolster the state’s economy. Photo by Lindsay Wenning, TheStatehouseFile.com
The 10 percent income tax cut – which would take $521 million out of state revenue each year – has met resistance from lawmakers and a recent poll found that Hoosiers aren’t sure about it either.
But Pence said the cut would give Indiana the lowest income tax rates in the Midwest.
“Government should only collect what it needs,” Pence said. “When government collects more than it needs, it should return that money to the hardworking taxpayers who earned it in the first place.”
Still, it’s not clear he convinced legislative leaders, who’ve said the state might not be able to afford the cut. Just after the speech, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Pence hadn’t persuaded him that the tax cut was a good idea.
“Not today,” Bosma said. “But we’ve got a long time to talk about it.”
Gov. Mike Pence made the following proposals in his State of the State address on Tuesday night:
– Reduce income taxes by 10 percent
– Increase in education funding, based in part on school performance
– Expand career and vocational education in Indiana schools
– Invest more heavily in job training for Indiana veterans
– Expand private school voucher opportunities to more students
Pence’s speech came just more than a week after he was inaugurated as Indiana’s 50th governor and more than two months after the November election. The former radio host spoke for about 25 minutes and didn’t use Teleprompters, opting instead for a podium copy of the speech.
The legislative agenda he unveiled echoed his campaign platform and included no surprises.
Pence told lawmakers he wants an increase in education funding and has proposed a budget that includes 1 percent boosts in each of the next two years for schools. He said school funding in the second year would be based in part on performance with an additional $6 million in grants to increase pay for high-performing teachers.
He also said he wants to make career, technical and vocational education a priority in Indiana high schools.
“The budget I submitted last week is honestly balanced, funds our priorities, reduces by 10 percent the tax bill Hoosiers currently pay, and still maintains reserves well in excess of the resources we would need to meet emergency and unforeseen contingencies,” he said.
Newly-inaugurated governor Mike Pence stuck to his campaign promises when he delivered his first State of the State address Tuesday.
TheStatehouseFile.com’s Olivia Covington reports on the speech.
Pence – whose wife watched from a chamber balcony – said 92 percent of small firms in Indiana pay their taxes under the individual income tax rate and the cut would give them more money to grow their businesses.
“Companies who are here will have one more reason to expand, and we will give businesses outside Indiana one more reason to move to the Hoosier state,” Pence said.
The governor also proposed building on what he called progress in Indiana’s two-year-old voucher program. Currently, only students who meet income guidelines and have attended public school for one year can qualify for the program.
“Expanding tuition tax deductions, removing the prior year requirement and lifting means testing for foster, adopted, special needs and military families would be a good start,” he said.
More than 9,000 students attended a school of their choice this fall. Kennedy Davis, a second grader at Trader’s Point Christian Academy in Indianapolis, is one of them.
Melita and Rodney Davis from Indianapolis chose to send their daughter to the private school last year. Their son, Isaiah, is now in kindergarten.
Pence pointed to Kennedy and her family as he talked about an expansion of the program.
“Keep it up, kids,” Pence said. “Indiana is proud of both you.”
To expand career and technical education, Pence proposed that Indiana create Regional Works Councils to coordinate with “businesses and educators across the state to develop regional, demand-driven curricula to bring high-paying career options to more Hoosiers in high school.”
During his speech, Pence told the story of Bill Beach, owner of Beach Mold and Tool in New Albany.
Beach attended vocational school and started his company, which specializes in injection molding and precision tool making, in 1972.
His business now employs about 600 Hoosiers.
“Career and technical education can provide our students with a pathway to success, just as it did for Bill,” Pence said. “It can launch entrepreneurs, give kids a reason to finish high school and create a well-qualified workforce that will encourage business to build here and grow here.”
Ellie Price is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.