Fiscal restraint was the theme Tuesday night as Governor Mike Pence delivered his first State of the State address to the Indiana General Assembly.
Pence took to the podium with the goal of convincing leaders in his own party and Hoosiers across the state, that a 10-percent income tax cut is a fiscally responsible move. Some GOP leaders have indicated they would rather put the money toward education, transportation or other programs that have seen budget cuts in recent years.
Pence argued that because the state is bringing in more than it spends, it should leave some of that money in Hoosiers’ pockets.
“I believe the government budget should never grow faster than the family budget,” he said. Our budget is a full percentage point less than inflation. By holding the line on spending, Indiana can continue to stand out as a beacon of fiscal restraint that knows how to fund its priorities in a responsible way.”
Pence also called for a reduction of state regulations that he says stunt economic growth.
“That’s why on day one of our administration, I signed a moratorium on any new regulations to ensure that Indiana is not burdening Hoosier employers with unnecessary red tape,” he said.
The governor also reached out to military families, calling for at least 3 percent of all state contracts awarded to go to veteran-owned businesses. On education, he said he will work with State Superintendent Glenda Ritz to give teachers more freedom to teach how they see fit.
General Assembly Reacts To Governor’s Address On Education
Both political parties of the General Assembly had things to say Pence’s address Tuesday night. Education will be at the forefront of a lot of people’s minds this legislative session.
A week after releasing his budget plan, Governor Mike Pence used his State of the State address to call on legislators to increase K-12 public school funding by about 1-percent.
Republicans at the statehouse agree that the need for more K-12 funding exists, but some say 1-percent isn’t enough. Senate President Pro Tem David Long says the state needs to provide more funding to districts, especially to bolster school safety.
“We’re looking for ways to make sure we have a sustainable and effective safety program for schools, and we’re going to have to help our schools pay for it, because we want to make sure its implemented in a way that’s affordable, yet effective,” Long says.
Pence’s proposed budget does set aside money for a comprehensive school safety review.
During the Democratic response to the speech, Minority Leader Scott Pelath praised Pence’s call for more vocational training in high schools, but says one specific Pence proposal does give the Democrats a cause for concern.
“And that is the incongruity between the expansion of some of the recent changes which have not been evaluated, not been tested, plunging the state headlong into an expansion of things like vouchers, ‘market Wall Street style’ completion between schools,” Pelath says.
Democrats are urging Pence to put the brakes on more education changes until there’s time to analyze the effects of all the recent policy changes.