Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Candidates Cut Taxes First, Worry about Future Later

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Candidates Cut Taxes First, Worry about Future Later

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS -Indiana's leading candidates for governor are having a debate that is, at best, incomplete. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Pence and Democratic former Indiana House Speaker John Gregg are in a race to see who can propose the most tax cuts. Their view is that since Indiana currently is running a surplus, the state doesn't need the cash.

It's as if they live in a world where Indiana doesn't have new costs to absorb into its $14 billion annual budget - where all the "Major Moves" transportation money isn't allocated; where Medicaid and pension costs are not projected to increase steadily; and where schools and universities haven't been starved for cash through the recession.

As Pence and Gregg race to propose the heaviest tax cuts they consider possible, both are paying lip service to the notion Indiana's budget-makers must weigh the state's priorities. But they aren't actually having that discussion.

Instead, so far the only side of the fiscal equation they have offered to taxpayers are cuts worth more than $500 million.

Pence was up to bat last week, unveiling what would be a 10 percent reduction in Indiana's income taxes. He proposed reducing the individual rate from its current 3.4 percent to a new 3.06 percent.

The move would reduce the state's tax revenue by $533 million, and, according to his campaign, it would leave an average of $228 per year in the wallets of the average Indiana family of four.

Gregg, meanwhile, has offered his own idea for a monster tax cut: eliminating the sales tax on gasoline, which his campaign says would cost the state around $540 million per year.

He has offered smaller ideas, too. He says Indiana should stop collecting corporate income taxes on businesses headquartered here, and he wants a tax credit to cover child care, although he has not said the size of that credit, or whether it would be offered on a sliding scale based on income.

What those two candidates' positions means is this: No matter which of them is elected, Indiana's entire projected surplus would be gone.

Both Pence and Gregg would seem to all but rule out restoring spending cuts in areas such as K-12 and higher education. …

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