Gov. Mike Pence has been in office for only three months, and he’s already having a difficult time fulfilling his campaign promises. He’s hitting roadblocks with his own party, even though Republicans have super majorities in the House and Senate.
Pence’s most ambitious proposal was a 10 percent reduction in Indiana's individual income tax. Indiana’s current tax rate is 3.4 percent, and Pence’s reduction would take it down to 3.06 percent. In dollars, the state would lose $750 million over the next two years and $500 million each year thereafter.
The Legislature balked, though the governor has been adamant. Democratic Sen. Lindel Hume of Princeton said the average Hoosier, making $50,000 a year, would see only $50 from the tax cut, or less than $1 a week.
“It’s just wrong for us to do that,” Hume said. “Most of the people in this state could care less about that dollar a week, and we seriously need that money to fund this state.”
The Senate eventually proposed the 3 percent cut, but Pence is standing firm at 10 percent. A budget has to be passed by the end of the legislative session on April 29. If the 3 percent stands, Pence could veto the budget and call the legislators back into an emergency session.
Pence’s ERASER (Eliminate, Reduce And Streamline Employee Regulation) bill also appears to be dead, but the governor released a statement saying it is only stalled. The bill would have automatically ended licensing requirements for a range of occupations, from real estate agents to cosmetologists. Pence is ideologically opposed to government regulations, but even people in those occupations wanted the regulations for safety reasons.
Some Republican legislators have tried to persuade the governor to accept the Medicaid expansion necessary under ObamaCare but Pence, like Republican governors in other states, such as Nikki Haley in South Carolina, continues to balk. Recently, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey agreed with the expansion.
Again, Pence’s opposition to big government is the driving force.
The conflict between Pence and the Republican-dominated Legislature is symptomatic of what Republicans are going through nationwide since President Barack Obama’s victory in November. Pence is sticking to his guns, but other Republicans are seeing that his proposals — such as a 10 percent tax cut — are not doable in a functioning government.
The governor might do well to move to the center to reach compromises. Extreme, steadfast positions aren’t in the best interests of democracy.