Pence Touches On Marriage, Taxes In State of State
By Mike Perleberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana Governor Mike Pence gave his first State of the State address Tuesday evening, reviewing his one year in office and looking ahead to more changes he seeks.
The Republican governor said he wants lawmakers to make a decision “this year once and for all” on marriage amendment House Joint Resolution 3 to the state’s constitution.
“Reasonable people can differ, and there are good people on both sides of this debate. No one, on either side, deserves to be disparaged or maligned because of who they are or what they believe. So let’s have a debate worthy of our people with civility and respect,” Pence told the crowd in the House Chamber, restating that he believes in traditional marriage.
VIEW VIDEO OF THE GOVERNOR’S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS BELOW.
Pence also reiterated his wish list for legislation he’d like to see lawmakers pass this year. That includes more road funding, making adoption easier, and phasing out Indiana’s business personal property tax. The tax, he said, is a significant impediment to business investment.
“This tax is especially damaging because it makes it harder for Hoosier businesses to grow by directly taxing any investments they make in equipment. Taxing equipment and technology in a state that leads the nation in making and creating things just doesn’t make sense,” Pence said.
READ THE FULL TEXT OF GOVERNOR PENCE’S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS HERE.
The governor did caution lawmakers to find a responsible way to phase out the tax, which is a significant source of revenue for local governments. That concern has been previously stated by both Republicans and Democrats in the legislature. House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said House Republicans – with a supermajority – will continue to work with the governor and minority Democrats on the personal property tax.
“The ideas set forth by the Governor this evening are going to be a continuing part of our discussion of this important issue,” Bosma said.
Indiana’s publically-funded private school voucher program has grown to one of the largest in the nation. This year, Pence wants lawmakers to expand the voucher offering to pre-kindergarteners.
Bosma was warm to the idea following the State of the State.
“I was pleased to hear the Governor’s strong support of preschool education. Developing opportunities to provide low-income Hoosier families with more options remains a continued focus for House Republicans,” Bosma said.
Pence also spoke about his highlights of his first year as governor, namely a balanced budget passed in 2013 and improving roads and schools.
House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) reacted to the State of the State by saying Pence is a fine public speaker, but his eloquence cannot mask an agenda that fails to meet Indiana’s biggest challenges. The Statehouse’s top Democrat called the governor’s personal property tax proposal a “jobless creation plan.”
“We are asked to believe that the cure to putting Hoosiers back to work is a proposal to either eliminate the business personal property tax, as the governor proposes, or scale it back substantially, as the Republican leadership in the Indiana House and Senate have advocated,” Pelath said.
“In any or all of the above, the proposals will put money into the pockets of corporate boardrooms across Indiana, rather than into the pockets of Hoosier families that have the ability to spend that additional income in a manner that actually benefits our economy.”
Pelath said Indiana lawmakers should be focused on putting a stop to decreasing wages, instead of a devisive debate over who marries whom.
“Even the governor will not douse the flames that will burn for the rest of the year,” said Pelath.
State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) said Pence’s address reaffirmed his optimism in Indiana’s future.
“We remain united in our commitment to high-quality schools, high-paying jobs and strong families. These three factors lay the foundation for a successful future. I stand firm with the governor on this matter and look forward to another session where these principles will be the focus,” Frye said.