The tax cut package includes $150 million for the elimination of the inheritance tax and more than $250 million annually once the income tax cut is complete in 2017, a package Republicans called the largest the state has ever seen. House Democratic spokesman John Schorg quickly pointed out that a string of cuts in 1997, 1999, 2002, 2007 and 2008 were all approved when Democrats led the House.
The budget also spends $128 million to pay off state debt incurred building the State Museum and the Forensics and Health Sciences Lab. It includes $206 million to pay for university projects with cash instead of bonds and spends roughly $100 million on job-training plans pushed by the governor and lawmakers.
It also includes more than $12 million to pay off loans incurred by charter schools that were deemed “failing” by the state, but leaves the question of whether their loans will be absolved with the Pence administration.
The budget compromise represents the biggest breakthrough for lawmakers as they work through the final hours of their 2013 session. Other issues still being worked out Thursday afternoon included proposals to expand vouchers, review the state’s inclusion in national Common Core standards, mandate a regulatory review of the $2.8 billion Rockport coal gasification plant and possibly expand gambling.
As minority Democrats began objecting to compromise measures, Republican leaders pulled them from conference committees and replaced them with Republicans. The procedural moves, which guarantee legislative leaders win support they need, are common and were previously done by Democrats when they controlled the House.
Lawmakers are hoping to finish their 2013 session Friday.