Pence wants to increase the amount of earnings not subject to income tax from $1,000 per child to an unspecified, higher amount that would grow automatically based on inflation.
He’s also called on the Legislature to eliminate the business personal property tax, expand the state’s school voucher program for early childhood education for low-income children, and release $400 million in road funding set aside during the 2013 legislative session.
Kenley said the items on Pence’s wish list “were all important issues and worthy of discussion.” He added: “I don’t think we’ll see any real action on these until we get to 2015.”
Kenley also said that one of his priorities in the 2015 budget session will be restoring the $26 million in funding that Pence is pulling back from the state’s public colleges and universities in 2014.
Kenley said college and university administrators had pledged to hold the line on tuition increases in return for more state dollars.
“I think they’ll stand by that if we can re-instate their funding for 2015,” he said.
The revised budget forecast came on the same day that Pence announced a drop in Indiana’s unemployment rate. The jobless numbers dropped to 7.3 percent in November, though more than one-third of Indiana’s counties remain above that number. The state’s unemployment rate also continued to exceed the national average of 7 percent.
Indiana gained a record 25,300 private-sector jobs in November. The gains were broad-based and spread across all sectors except leisure and hospitality, which was flat.
Pence said the numbers are welcome news.
“The continued downward trend in unemployment and the significant growth in private sector jobs demonstrate that Indiana’s economy is strong and growing stronger every day.”
Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MaureenHayden