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February 28, 2013

Pence vows to push tax cut ‘relentlessly’

GOP lawmakers have not warmed to the idea

(Continued)

INDIANAPOLIS —

Pence, citing the state’s $2 billion surplus, said he’s convinced the state can afford the revenue reductions that would result from his tax cut, even with the looming federal sequestration, the automatic budget cuts, set to hit Friday, March 1, that will reduce federal education, military and other payments to the state.

So far, Pence has failed to convince the Republican lawmakers who have super-majorities in the House and Senate of the same. 

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, of Michigan City, whose caucus voted against the House budget bill because it didn’t include enough money for education, mocked the split between Pence and GOP lawmakers, saying the latter group was “ruining” the new governor’s “honeymoon.”

Meeting with reporters Wednesday morning, Pelath predicted Senate Republicans would try to make some kind of deal on the proposed tax cut as a way to “salvage the governor’s dignity.” 

But Senate Republicans have also expressed their skepticism of the Pence plan; the chairmen of the Senate appropriations and the Senate tax and fiscal policy committee have both questioned whether the state could afford the long-term effect the revenue reductions would bring. 

So Pence is out drumming up support for the plan with Hoosier voters, hoping they’ll put some pressure on their legislators. Pence said his tax cut plan is getting a good reception from audiences around the state, though he complained that people didn’t know enough about its details. 

As Pence told reporters Wednesday, he’s convinced that his tax cut plan will lead to more job creation by reducing the tax burden on small business owners and leaving more dollars in the pockets of working Hoosiers. Under the plan, the average Hoosier would see their tax burden reduced by about $100. A small business owner making $200,000 a year would see a reduction of about $1,000. 

Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane of Anderson questioned how successful Pence will be in trying to convince voters to pressure GOP lawmakers to trade off more dollars for schools and roads for Pence’s tax cut.

Lanane said when he’s met with voters at public forums, they don’t support the tax cut: “They say, ‘We have better things to spend it on.”

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