Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Tax Policies Are Real Issue in Race for Governor

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Tax Policies Are Real Issue in Race for Governor

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS... No matter how often the two leading candidates for governor repeat the word "jobs" on the campaign trail, it's meaningless unless you take it a step further and examine the area where the candidates' visions of how to create them diverge: tax policy. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pence views lower, flatter tax rates as the key to economic stimulus. Democratic former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg sees targeted tax credits and clawbacks as ways to jump-start certain sectors and keep state contract money here.

Since neither has had much to say on the policy front just yet - both say their teams are still fi-nalizing their plans, and there's no reason to unveil them while Hoosiers' attention is focused on a U.S. Senate primary - we know little more than that.

Still, it's those philosophical approaches - much more than consternation over the fact that Pence is a congressman and Gregg registered as a lobbyist, or that Pence has been a champion of conservative social stances and Gregg seems willing to re-fight the right to work battle on behalf of labor - that is the meat of this race in its very early stages.

So the question becomes, how, specifically, they see tax policies as opportunities to create jobs. Just as important is the follow- up: How would those policies reshape the rest of the state's government?

If Pence and Gregg want the state to decline tax money it's currently receiving, outgoing Gov. Mitch Daniels has done neither many favors.

His "automatic taxpayer refund" program kicks in this year if the state's surplus exceeds 10 percent of the $14 billion or so Indiana spends in a year. That means what could be a $1.8 billion or more surplus will be whittled down to a $1.4 billion reserve.

His method of managing the state's finances through the recession was to put the squeeze on everyone, demanding hefty budget cuts of sometimes as much as 15 percent from state agencies while his own Office of Management and Budget watches them closely. …

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