Next Governor Will Still Have to Persuade Legislators to Back Platform
House, Senate leaders noncommittal on Pence, Gregg tax cut proposals
House Republicans, led by Speaker Brian Bosma (center). (WIBC.com photo: Eric Berman)
Regardless of who wins the governorship, Republican legislators are quietly serving notice they won't rubber-stamp the new governor's platform planks.
Republican Mike Pence has proposed a 10 percent income tax cut, while Democrat John Gregg wants to exempt gas from the sales tax. Both want reductions to the corporate income tax.
House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) doesn't rule out tax cuts, but he notes legislators are already phasing in a cut in the corporate income tax cut and the abolition of Indiana's estate tax. He says it's the General Assembly's job to look further down the road than the campaign, and make sure any further changes are sustainable.
Bosma boasts the Republican House blocked GOP Governor Mitch Daniels' call for a temporary tax hike on top wage-earners to balance the budget. "I've been thanked for that a couple of times," he says.
Pence has also called for increasing Indiana's reserves to 15 percent of spending. That would require changing the automatic-refund law, which caps the surplus at 12.5 percent. Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) declines to say whether he'd support the change -- he says any legislative session is, quote, "a marketplace of ideas."
A House Republican agenda unveiled Thursday does make vocational education, job training, and partnerships between industry and universities a top priority. That mirrors a Pence proposal.
Bosma says he's been talking weekly with both Pence and Gregg.
Republicans are favored to maintain control of both houses of the legislature. Democrats would have to gain 11 seats in the House, or 10 seats plus the governorship. To claim a Senate majority, they'd need both a Gregg victory and a sweep of all 16 contested Senate races, including the 12 held by Republicans.