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March 14, 2012

Pence starts state tour, has promised policy ideas

INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. Rep. Mike Pence was set to begin a statewide “listening” tour as Hoosiers wait to hear more specific ideas from the Republican gubernatorial hopeful.

Pence planned to crisscross the state Thursday and Friday, stopping at Indiana businesses to talk with workers. He has previously said he would lay out his agenda after state lawmakers ended their 2012 session. They finished their work last week.

Pence spokesman Matt Lloyd declined Wednesday to say whether specific proposals would be laid out soon, but Pence hinted in his press statement that a jobs plan is forthcoming.

“As we work to put the finishing touches on our jobs plan, I believe it is essential that we first listen to Hoosiers who are creating jobs in the city and on the farm,” Pence said.

Pence previously said he wants to cut the state’s sales and income taxes. He also told the Journal-Gazette of Fort Wayne that he would like to expand the state’s charter school and school voucher programs and is considering cutting down the time before the state can take over a failing school.

But Indiana’s General Assembly already swiped two proposals he had campaigned on after they voted to phase out the state’s inheritance tax and make Indiana the 23rd right-to-work state.

Democratic candidate John Gregg has said he wants to bring windmill manufacturing to Indiana and focus on rebuilding the state’s roads. Completing the Hoosier Heartland highway project, which would stretch from the northeast section of the state to Lafayette is a priority, but he said he wants to hear from voters how they want to pay for that project and others.

Gregg campaign manager Rebecca Pearcey said more proposals will be laid out “in the next few weeks.”

Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham is pushing a “welfare-to-work” program and creating a merit-based pay scale for state workers.

The gubernatorial candidates have been quietly crossing the state holding meetings with potential supporters through the start of the year as state lawmakers drew most of the attention to Indianapolis for the 2012 session. But with the session over, the focus now turns in part back to the race for governor.

Gov. Mitch Daniels is term-limited from seeking re-election in November.

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