Pence puts focus on jobs, taxes, gay marriage in address
Indiana Governor Mike Pence has laid out a vision for state lawmakers in 2014.
He made tax cuts, job creation, and the debate over gay marriage the featured topics of his second State of the State address. The governor touted Indiana's improving economy, but also focused on the struggle facing so many people as they search for good jobs.
Republicans say Pence painted with a broad brush. Democrats say he's more in love with being governor than doing governor.
"I believe in traditional marriage and I have long held the view that the people rather than unelected judges should decide matters of such great consequence to the society," Pence said.
He asked lawmakers to decide the question on the definition of marriage, an issue that brought hundreds of Hoosiers to the Statehouse this week, by the end of this year.
"Instead of using the bully pulpit to set this issue aside to deal with real problems, he took the opportunity to lead us further into that particular conflagration," said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City).
Pence started his second State of the State with the high points.
"In November, one out of every eight jobs created in this country was created right here in Indiana," the governor said.
He also bragged about improving test scores for the state in math and reading. He pushed for a voluntary voucher pre-K program to help the state's low-income children, but called a timeout on national academic standards. Republicans agree and hope the State Board of Education and the Superintendent of Public Instruction can work that out, but added they are willing to act if they can't.
"We'll wait to see what happens this week with the board and hope for the best," said State Sen. David Long (R-Fort Wayne).
And what is a State of the State speech without a promised tax cut?
"Taxing equipment and technology in a state that leads the nation in making and creating things just doesn't make sense," Pence said.
Democrats say eliminating the business personal property tax is a jobless tax cut.
"If you phase it out, it is a one-billion dollar hit to the state of Indiana. The real question becomes, 'How do you do that?'," said State Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson).
Lawmakers have until March to figure that out.
On the question of Common Core, Wednesday's State Board of Education meeting takes on even more significance, because Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) said they would like to see some progress made as early as Wednesday. If they don't, they say they may have to get state lawmakers involved.