Indiana News

Dems: Legislature Missed Chance to Help Middle Class, Create Jobs

Pelath says 5% tax cut will be too small to make difference to Hoosiers



House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) ( file photo: Eric Berman)

Democrats are crediting Republican leaders with improving the tone at the statehouse, but they're slamming the policy results as a "missed opportunity."

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) says the five-percent tax cut deal between G-O-P legislators and Governor Pence represents the worst of both worlds. He contends the tax cut is too small to stimulate the economy, but will siphon off a quarter-billion dollars that could have been spent to help the state in other ways.

House Democrats had backed either Pence's original 10% tax cut or their own sliding-scale version, which would have limited the cut to people earning less than $200,000 a year. Pelath notes Democrats' version would have put money in people's pockets immediately, while the final tax compromise doesn't kick in for two years.

Pelath and Senate counterpart Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) also contend the decision not to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law forfeited the session's best chance to create jobs. Pence and legislative Republicans have insisted on tying expansion to federal approval for using the Healthy Indiana Plan as the vehicle for operating the program.

And Lanane says $70 million set aside for job training in the new budget is a fraction of what's needed.

Pelath does praise what he calls an improved tone in the House this year, after two years of Democratic walkouts triggered by the Republican-backed right-to-work law. He says Pence has communicated well with opposition legislators, while debate in the House has stayed focused on the issues. But he faults Republicans for what he calls a "barbaric power grab" in passing a controversial bill to eliminate some seats on Marion County's City-County Council.


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