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Governor’s Proposals Include Taxes and Pre-K Vouchers

Governor Mike Pence's 2014 legislative agenda includes a phase-out of the business personal property tax and a pre-K voucher program.

Governor Mike Pence has revealed his 2014 legislative agenda.

Photo: Bill Shaw / WFIU

Governor Mike Pence has revealed his 2014 legislative agenda.

Governor Mike Pence’s 2014 legislative agenda is full of proposals that would increase spending while curtailing state tax revenue, heading into a non-budget session of the General Assembly. That agenda includes a phase-out of the state’s business personal property tax.

While speaking on a panel just a short time before Governor Pence unveiled his legislative agenda, House Ways and Means chair Tim Brown said the message of the upcoming session is, “No opening of the budget.” Yet Pence’s 2014 Roadmap includes several proposals that will either require new state spending or weaken the flow of revenue into state coffers.

Pence says his philosophy is that a rising tide lifts all boats.

“We’ve seen unemployment drop in the state of Indiana. More than 21 thousand jobs have been added since we took office in the last ten months. So continuing to promote policies that will encourage investment and jobs will also impact the resources that the state of Indiana has,” Pence said.

A prime example of this philosophy is Pence’s proposal to phase out the business personal property tax. Eliminating that tax would cut off about a billion dollars to local communities. But Pence calls it a disadvantage in the state’s competition for jobs and investment. And he says he will discuss with the legislature ways to replace the money local communities will lose.

Pence is also proposing a pre-K voucher program, saying the time has come to provide access to pre-kindergarten education for all disadvantaged Hoosier children.

House Republicans proposed a preschool pilot program last session that would have laid the groundwork for an expansive pre-K voucher program. Senate Republicans dramatically curtailed the plan, citing concerns about cost. The governor says he’s now throwing his weight behind significant preschool funding.

“As a result of a lack of quality early educational opportunities, children – especially those from low-income households – often are unprepared when they enter kindergarten,” Pence said.

Pence’s proposal would provide vouchers to families who make up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which for a family of four is nearly 43 thousand dollars. The vouchers would be for either a public or private program. Pence says he doesn’t have specifics yet as to how much the program would cost. While legislative leaders from both parties have cited early childhood education as a major focus of the upcoming session, they say cost will likely create the most debate.

Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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  • Fish

    Not only does Governor Pence offer that ridiculous comment, “a rising tide lifts all boats” (What if you have a leaky boat? What if you’re trying to ferry a dozen people across the ocean in a dinghy? What if your tiny boat is swamped by a huge luxury yacht that doesn’t even notice your boat?) but he appears to be intent on following the disastrous policies of George W Bush: spending more while reducing revenues. Why does he think Hoosiers want or deserve Bush redux?

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