"I am not the legislator in chief."
Those are the words of Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who spoke to a small group from the media in his office at the Indiana Statehouse on Wednesday morning.
Pence was highlighting his style of leadership to reporters. Indiana's new governor says he wants to work in collaboration with legislators but refrained on saying too much until, as he said, "the issues get to my desk."
In trying to outline a difference in leadership style from his predecessor, Governor Pence sees his role as casting a vision, articulating goals and prioritizing policies to achieve those goals.
With other states like Nebraska, Louisiana and others
exploring the possibility of eliminating their state income taxes, Pence says it is even more important to pass his ten-percent income tax cut
that he campaigned on. Pence limits spending growth in his roughly $29 billion budget to cover the $790 million cost of the tax cut.
To underscore his point, he added that two-thirds of net jobs created in the United States occurred in nine states that have no state income tax. I specifically asked him if he was proposing the elimination of the state income tax and he said no. He was just underscoring the need for Indiana to act to keep pace with the competition.
Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming have no income tax. New Hampshire and Tennessee only tax dividend and interest income.
The new Republican governor has cash in the bank and a roughly $500 million surplus to work with, courtesy of former Gov. Mitch Daniels. But he also has many demands from lawmakers in both parties to restore spending cuts to education, child services and other areas.
Pence Budget Director Chris Atkins submitted a two-year spending plan last month with a modest increase for the embattled Department of Child Services and one percent more spending for education.