Indiana Gov. Pence Outlines Vision for State
By Sean Powers, with additional reporting from The Associated Press
Indiana’s Republican Gov. Mike Pence delivered his first State of the State address on Tuesday night.Gov. Pence spent the bulk of his half hour speech touting his proposed budget.
It includes $347 million in roads, bridges and infrastructure projects, $18 million in job training, and a 10 percent cut to the state’s personal income tax rate.
“By holding the line on spending, Indiana can continue to stand out as a beacon of fiscal restraint - a state that knows how to fund its priorities in a responsible way,” Pence said.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane of Anderson said Gov. Pence is not being bold enough in his proposals to help the state's economy.
Lanane said Pence properly laid out challenges facing many Indiana residents with inadequate job skills, but he said the $18 million Pence proposed for job training isn't enough.
“I think I was hoping for a little bit more of a bolder approach in terms of ideas and resources to really empower our workers to really bridge that skill gap,” Lanane said.
Meanwhile, Republican legislative leaders worry Pence’s proposed 10 percent cut in the personal income tax rate could come at the expense of more school spending.
Pence also said he wants to expand the private school voucher system.
“Parents should be able to choose where their kids go to school, regardless of their income,” he said. “We must continue to expand educational opportunities, especially for those with the fewest resources.”
In response to Pence’s push to expand the school voucher system, House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) said voters want the state to slow down on school changes.
“They want traditional public schools to be reinforced, and to be put in a position where they can adapt to some of the recent changes that former Superintendent (Tony) Bennett put forward,” Pelath said.
Pence also called for improved vocational training, better services for veterans, and new regional councils that would focus on vocational training for high school students.
There were sections of Pence’s State of the State address that didn’t make it on the air. Pence said he dropped some parts from his speech because he was running out of time.
Pence omitted a section recalling a speech President Ronald Reagan gave to the Indiana General Assembly in which he supported the federal government giving more leeway to states.
Pence also skipped remarks in which he called the deadly Newtown, Conn., school shooting “every parent's worst nightmare'' but said gun control isn't the answer. Pence's prepared speech said, “We will protect our kids, and we will protect our rights.”