Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Timing a Question for Pence's New Year Agenda

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Timing a Question for Pence's New Year Agenda

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - Republican Gov. Mike Pence may find more problems pushing a broad second-year legislative agenda during the General Assembly's upcoming "short session" than he had during his first meeting with the Legislature earlier this year. The governor detailed a plan earlier this month to expand the number and power of charter schools, eliminate the personal property tax, establish preschool vouchers and spend $400 million on new road projects and other items he says will improve Indiana's economy.

But he and his team are likely to run into time and space constraints.

The General Assembly formally holds two-year long sessions, like Congress, but breaks it into two general working sessions: a "long session" of roughly four months, when the budget is written, and a "short session" typically reserved for policy items outside the budgeting process.

And while it might not be a part of any formal agenda, Republican legislative leaders have decided they will take up a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, civil unions and employer benefits for same-sex couples.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, has already warned Pence that the cost of his education agenda may force the Senate to delay action until 2015. And the House's budget leader, Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, has cautioned that he will not reopen the budget - a move that would be necessary to find money for Pence's new programs, but would also open the way for other interests to press lawmakers for funding.

Pence dismissed concerns that his 2014 plan may be too broad in an hourlong meeting with reporters last week.

"I'm getting the sense it does seem more robust to some. If you'll permit me, it doesn't seem more robust to me," he said. "Our Roadmap for Indiana included some 50 policy proposals that advance on our six goals. Our goals haven't changed and our policy prescriptions haven't changed."

Much of the changed perception may be because Pence is providing more details about his second-year plan than he did for his inaugural agenda. Items like the establishment of teacher vouchers, preschool vouchers and others have been clearly marked as the governor's and have included important information, like cost and eligibility. …

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