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January 23, 2013

Inaugural challenges for Gov. Pence

(Continued)

Rookie governors do not always get what they want. In 2005, Gov. Daniels sought a one-year, 1 percent tax hike on “the very rich” and that was rejected. Both newly minted Gov. Evan Bayh in 1989 and Frank O’Bannon in 1997 inherited 50/50 split Houses, and both ended up with special sessions.

The Great Depression prompted newly elected Democratic Gov. Paul McNutt, along with two super majorities in the House and Senate, to overhaul the state’s bureaucracy, initiate the gross income tax, while creating work programs that would eventually forge jobs for 75,000 Hoosiers. Like McNutt, Pence comes to office with two super majorities, 69 to 31 in the House and 37-13 in the Senate. Thus, Pence finds himself at a unique and rare juncture.

But commanding legislative majorities don’t mean the governor always gets what he wants. Gov. Roger D. Branigin, fresh off the 1964 Democratic landslide, ended up vetoing more than 100 bills.

About an hour after taking his oath and greeting the hundreds of Hoosiers who streamed in out of the cold, Pence ascended to the meditation room atop the Statehouse. The Columbus Republic reported: Three pastors stood behind him and placed their hands on his shoulders and prayed that Pence “find rest, comfort and peace in Christ.” 

This new governor — as they all do — will need all the help he can get.

— This columnist publishes at www.howeypolitics.com. Find him on Twitter @hwypol

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