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Gubernatorial Candidates Chat About Energy, Education, Taxes

Indiana’s three gubernatorial candidates each sat down with former Chief Justice Randall Shepard at IUPUI Tuesday to discuss the state’s policy future.

  • John Gregg

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    Photo: Brandon Smith

    John Gregg answers questions from Randall Shepard.

  • Mike Pence

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    Photo: Brandon Smith

    Mike Pence considers an answer to a question at a Tuesday forum at IUPUI.

  • Rupert Boneham at Forum

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    Photo: Brandon Smith

    Libertarian Rupert Boneham advocated eliminating many taxes and pushing for more renewable energy.

The candidates found common ground on energy policy and tax issues, but had differing ideas about what the state’s education priorities should be.

Chief Justice Shepard asked GOP candidate Mike Pence, Libertarian nominee Rupert Boneham and Democratic candidate John Gregg about how Indiana can balance its future energy needs with environmental concerns.  And the answers were fairly similar.  Gregg says there are several options to explore, including wind and solar energy, as well as coal and natural gas.  Boneham says the state needs to further use the alternative sources of energy it already has:

“I’ve known it all my life, driving up and down [Interstate] 65 on my motorcycle, you know, and you’re leaning into the wind still trying to go forward – it blows there,” Boneham says.  “It blows hard and we need more windmills.”

Pence says maintaining the low cost of energy would be his first priority as governor but also talked about exploring alternative fuel sources.

Pence also praised Indiana’s fiscal strength, applauding Governor Daniels and the legislature for helping produce a roughly two billion dollar surplus.  Moving forward, Pence says he would devote one third of the state’s surplus to savings that would protect against a fiscal crisis.  He says the remaining two thirds would go towards growing the economy through income tax cuts.  Gregg says the state must be careful with its surplus.

“I think the key to our economic development, though, is not necessarily to rush and give all that away and give it back,” Gregg says.  “We have to ascertain the actual dollar amount.  I think the second thing we need to do is make sure that we have a very, very fair, broad-based tax policy.”

Gregg says he would eliminate the sales tax on gasoline and cut corporate taxes for Indiana-based companies.  Libertarian candidate Boneham says he wants to see greater transparency in the fiscal side of government.  And he says his administration would look for taxes that can be cut or eliminated entirely.

All three stressed the need to better train students for the workforce.

For all the candidates, better preparing students isn’t just about getting them ready for college.  Pence says he wants to strengthen career and vocational education for high schoolers, something he feels has been lost in the last 30 years.

“We need a seamless integration between our education institutions, our business on a regional basis and all of the rest of our assets and bring those together to make sure we give our young people in high school the widest range of career paths and choices,” Pence says.

Boneham says every student, regardless of whether they plan to go to college, should have some sort of training coming out of high school.  And John Gregg says he wants to strengthen the educational system from top to bottom, emphasizing early childhood education through career and vocational training.  None of the candidates went into specifics when it comes to funding education.

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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