State of State earns Pence style points, prompts questions

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Not only did a new governor deliver the State of the State Address this year, there were other significant differences, too. 

The big difference from the last couple of years was the absence of union protesters. Last year, you could hear them on the broadcast chanting from across the Statehouse.

The other difference is that Republican Mike Pence didn't use a TelePrompTer.  Every Indiana governor has used one since 1984.

The State of the State played well in the Statehouse with both Republicans and Democrats giving the governor style points.  "I think the governor set just the right tone," said GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma, "a tone of optimism."

But, when it came to content, there are questions, and most them center on the Pence plan for a 10% cut in the state income tax. 

"Governor Pence has a case to make," said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath.  "He has a case to make that, if you make these changes in Indiana's tax code, is that truly going to empower the middle class in a way that grows jobs for Indiana?"

Many lawmakers would rather see the money go to schools.  The Pence budget increases school spending by just 1% a year.  "It does not restore the cuts that were made in the last two years," said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane.  "It doesn't get them back to what we funded in the budget two years ago."

And that's why even the governor's fellow Republicans are not yet ready to endorse the tax cut.  "You know the question will be at the end of the day, one, can we afford it at the end of April," said Senate President Pro Tem David Long.  "We'll have to wait and be patient."  April is when lawmakers get a new forecast of state tax revenues.

There is also bi-partisan hesitation to endorse an expansion of the school voucher system sought by the governor.  But at this point, neither Democrats nor Republicans are shutting the door on any of the governor's ideas. They say it's time to listen, but they also hope that Governor Pence will listen to them.

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