No one who’s paid attention to the state’s finances is taking Pence’s argument seriously, though, because they see his budget as a half-hearted effort to actually fund those priorities. Nor are they swayed by Pence’s Washington, D.C.-style argument that increasing spending in those areas amounts to growing the size of Indiana’s government.
Pence’s problems were on clear display last week during his speech in front of a Statehouse gathering of Indiana Association of Cities and Towns members.
“I’m advocating we lower the income tax across the board by 10 percent for every Hoosier in the city and on the farm, on a permanent basis,” Pence said.
He paused and looked up as if he expected applause, but was met with silence.
“And I know we might have some disagreement on this from some in this organization,” he said adding, as one person clapped, “apparently not all.”
This all helps to explain why the word “context” has been uttered so frequently by House Speaker Brian Bosma, the Indianapolis Republican who has balked at Pence’s tax cut proposal and favors more funding for schools and roads and pumping $197 million into retiring some of the state’s debt proposals for which he’s been blasted by the Koch brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity in television and radio advertisements.
Lawmakers spent eight years in Daniels’ shadow, giving the former governor much of what he wanted and then going home on weekends to complaints that their local schools were strapped for cash and their municipal-level friends were taking it on the chin. Those lawmakers’ desire to reassert their authority, combined with Pence’s failure to top 50 percent in last year’s gubernatorial election, gives the new governor nowhere near the clout that his predecessor had when he left.