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Candidates discuss taxes, education in Tuesday night Indiana gubernatorial debate

<p>A screenshot from the Indiana gubernatorial debate Tuesday online.</p>

A screenshot from the Indiana gubernatorial debate Tuesday online.

Candidates for governor Democrat Dr. Woody Myers, Libertarian Donald Rainwater and Republican incumbent Gov. Eric Holcomb participated in the televised Indiana Gubernatorial Debate on Tuesday night.

During the hour-long debate, the candidates answered questions about topics such as COVID-19 regulations, taxes and education.

COVID-19 

Myers, a former Indiana health commissioner, said if elected he will establish an Indiana mask mandate with consequences for people who don’t wear them. He also said the current policies in place are not working because of the current increase in cases.

In his COVID-19 response, Holcomb said he wanted to protect people’s civil liberties, but certain policies and rules needed to be put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We will continue to make sure that we balance lives and livelihoods,” Holcomb said.

Rainwater said as governor, he would focus on people’s right to choose to wear a mask or participate in social distancing because he believes people should do what is easiest and best for them.

Taxes 

Holcomb said he is in favor of pro-growth taxes, which makes taxes lower for Indiana businesses to help them grow and encourages other businesses to move to Indiana.

If elected, Myers said he would want to increase corporate taxes, but he wants to go through the state budget to eliminate unnecessary projects, so he doesn’t have to raise taxes in other areas.

Rainwater said he wants to decrease taxes across the board in order to decrease the size and scope of Indiana's state government, which he said wastes the people’s money.

Education 

Holcomb said the state currently allocates more than 50% of the state’s budget to education and he has helped increase K-12 funding by $1.6 billion. He also mentioned he helped create a teacher pay compensation commission, which is looking at how to sustainably increase teacher pay.

Myers said while the state increased teacher’s salaries, it was not enough to prevent teachers from moving to other states to receive better pay and benefits. He said he would work to increase pay for teachers and allocate more money to public schools in general by prioritizing them in the state’s budget.

Rainwater said he wants to decentralize education and allow individual communities to regulate schools instead of the state. He said he believes this will help raise teachers’ pay.

Climate change

Rainwater said businesses should be in charge of cleaning up any messes they made that were detrimental to the environment, and the state should hold them responsible to do so. He said it would be unfair for the state to take people’s money to clean up a business’s mistake.

Myers said he would make climate change a priority by increasing the number of people working in the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and working to use more clean energy to improve Indiana's water and air.

Holcomb said the Indiana Department of Environmental Management has been successful with the amount it currently has. He said the department is working with local communities every day and Indiana’s air and water are cleaner than they have been since the ’70s.

Gun violence and regulation

Myers said he supports increased electronic background checks and closing the gun show loophole, which allows private sales to be made without a background check.

If elected, Rainwater said he would advocate for constitutional carry, which would allow people to legally carry a handgun without a license or permit. He also said that he believes red flag laws, which allow police or family members to petition to have guns taken away from someone, violates people’s constitutional right of due process.

Holcomb did not say he supported constitutional carry, citing it is currently free to obtain a three-year gun permit. He also said that he would protect the red flag law and that under his administration Indiana State Police would continue to work with communities to help address gun violence.

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