INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence is calling on the General Assembly to increase spending on education, roads and job development while ending a $1 billion-a-year tax on business that funds local governments, schools and libraries.
At a conference Thursday, the Republican Pence said he wants to expand the state’s school voucher program to include pre-kindergarten for low-income children and use $400 million in road funds to widen crowded major highways. At the same time, he wants to end the personal property tax on Indiana businesses, calling it a disincentive to investment.
“I truly do believe that by phasing out the business personal property tax in the state of Indiana we will ensure that Indiana remains at the very forefront at the competition to attract new investment and jobs — new investment by businesses that are here and new investment by businesses with which we compete,” he said.
A proposal to repeal the tax has met with resistance from local leaders who fear losing revenue will force them to cut services or raise local taxes. While providing no specifics, Pence moved to assuage those fears.
“It is essential as we move into this debate that we ensure that this reform does not unduly harm our local governments’ abilities to meet their obligations,” he said. “As governor, my pledge in phasing this tax out is just that.”
Pence’s wish list for the 2014 session may be a tough one for legislators to fill. It’s a “short” session in a non-budget making year and must, by law, by done by mid-March. Rep. Tim Brown, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has already said the budget process won’t be re-opened during the session.
But Pence called on legislators to act boldly to keep up what he said is positive momentum.