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December 11, 2013

Ind. lawmakers face ambitious agenda

Pre-K funding on docket for 30-day session

(Continued)

Pence didn’t say how much the voucher plan would cost or how it would be funded.

But he did make clear that his vision for more jobs in Indiana includes eliminating a $1 billion tax on businesses. Pence said getting rid of the business personal property tax, levied on equipment, would attract investment.

The proposal tops Pence’s wish list, and it’s a top priority of House Republicans, as well.

But the plan has already met resistance from local leaders, many of whom rely on the tax. Local government officials note that property tax caps passed in 2008 have already drained about $950 million from their budgets.

Their complaints are finding sympathetic ears: House Minority Leader Scott Pelath called the tax plan a “corporate giveaway” that “is going to end up hurting families.”

Legislative leaders have vowed to look for ways to replace the revenue that local governments will lose, but Senate President David Long has already said the state can’t afford to fill the hole.

Local governments were grateful last year that the General Assembly approved more than $140 million in new funding for roads and bridges. In the coming session, Pence will ask legislators to release $400 million more to expand the state’s major highways.

The request isn’t expected to generate much controversy, unlike House Joint Resolution 6, better known as the amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

That issue has dominated pre-session discussions. Despite pressure from some in their own party, Republican leaders have vowed to move ahead on the measure, which would put the Constitutional amendment to a statewide vote.

Long has said that his own children oppose HJR-6, but that he won’t stop a vote on the measure. Bosma has promised to do the same and has turned down request from Democratic legislative leaders to kill the measure.

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