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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

politics

Pence puts focus on business tax, education

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence outlined his focus on elimination of the business personal property tax, continuing the state’s progress in education and improving the state’s infrastructure and highways during his 2014 State of the State Address.

Pence closed his 30-minute address, which summarized his legislative agenda for the upcoming year, by recounting the tale of “the Miracle on Mount Baldy.”

A 6-year-old boy in Michigan City, Ind., was walking along the dunes of Lake Michigan on July 12, 2013.

He fell deep into the sand, unable to be seen by any of his family or the rescue workers in attendance.

For three hours, firefighters with their shovels, reporters with their notebooks and passersby with their hands dug in the hot sand to find the boy, Pence said.

The boy was eventually pulled to safety.

The second-year governor said the boy’s father told him that saving his son’s life “wasn’t our miracle. This was everyone’s miracle.”

Pence said the community and camaraderie displayed by Indiana’s citizens during that hot summer day is part of what keeps Indiana moving forward.

“The state of our state is strong and growing stronger because Hoosiers are the best people on earth,” he said. “We are a strong and good people, but we are never stronger than when we work together.”

Pence led his legislation proposals with the phasing out of Indiana’s business personal property tax, which taxes business owners on personally owned machinery and equipment.

Because of the tax, business owners in Indiana have some of the highest property tax rates in the nation.

“I believe that one significant impediment to business investment remains — it’s called the business personal property tax,” Pence said. “This tax is especially damaging because it’s harder for Hoosier business to grow. Taxing equipment and technology in a state that leads the nation in making and creating things just doesn’t make sense.”

He urged members of both chambers of the state’s legislature to find a responsible way to phase out the business personal property tax.

A proposal to spend $400 million on the state’s infrastructure will “put Hoosiers back to work, keeping us as the Crossroads of America,” Pence said.

The governor also proposed legislation that would prompt a study of every state dollar spent on education.It would also create a voluntary preschool voucher program for low-income families to keep the state’s progress in education going.

The evening’s most tense moments came during Pence’s final agenda point, when he reiterated his support for marriage between one man and one woman in the state.

Just one day after the House of Representatives decided to table a vote on the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state, Pence implored Indiana’s legislature to find a solution in 2014.

“For my part, I believe in traditional marriage, and I have long held the view that the people, rather than elected judges, should decide matters of such great consequence to the society,” he said. “So let’s have a debate worthy of our people with civility and respect, and let’s resolve this issue this year once and for all.”

House Democrats described Pence’s speech as one that raised more questions than answers.

“Mike Pence clearly looks like a governor, he has the soaring rhetoric of a governor, but I wonder if he likes doing governor,” Minority Leader Scott Pelath said. “I think we have to agree that his solutions are simply not up to the task ahead.”

Pence, however, said he believes Indiana will thrive in the coming year because he will keep pushing it to do so.

“We’ve made progress in jobs and schools, but with still too many Hoosiers out of work, with our state lagging behind in per capita income and health, and too many kids in underperforming schools, I believe we must remain relentless, bold and ambitious to keep Indiana moving forward,” he said.

Follow reporter Alden Woods on Twitter @acw9293.

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