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Pence’s Tax Cut May Be Political Liability

One political science professor says studies have shown most governors do not benefit politically by cutting taxes.

Governor Pence

Photo: Bill Shaw/WTIU News

Governor Pence being sworn into office earlier this month.

Political scientists say Governor Mike Pence’s call for a 10-percent personal income tax cut may have helped get him elected, but may not help him much politically while he’s in office. Indiana University political science professor Marjorie Hershey says studies have shown most governors do not benefit politically by cutting taxes.

“Governors do gain a little bit from cutting taxes, but not nearly as much as they lose from raising taxes,” says Hershey. “Voters just don’t remember these benefits as easily as they remember costs.”

Pence’s proposal has also sparked hesitation from Republican politicians, but some influential lawmakers believe they can compromise with the governor.

State Senator Luke Kenley says there may be some push-and-pull between the General Assembly and the governor’s office in the next three months, but there’s just one measure of success he’s watching.

“Here’s the definition of happiness. If you can get 51 votes in the house and 26 votes in the senate and the governor signs the bill, that’s as happy as we’re going to get,” he says.

Leaders in both of the Republican-controlled houses of the legislature have said the governor’s tax cut proposal is an idea they’re broadly supportive of, but one which may take too much money from a state budget still working to rebuild following the nationwide recession and preparing to shoulder increased costs from implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

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