INDIANAPOLIS — Republican Gov. Mike Pence held close to a carefully scripted message for 2014 during his second State of the State address, prodding lawmakers for a business tax cut and education items while asking them to take action on a controversial marriage amendment this year.
Pence offered little in the way of new details Tuesday, sticking to what has become a defining hands-off approach with lawmakers and his legislative agenda. Instead, he asked them for a second year largely focused on continuing the same strategy of cutting taxes and expanding sweeping education changes.
"We've made progress in jobs and schools, but with still too many Hoosiers out of work," Pence said. "With our state lagging behind in per capita income and health and too many kids in underperforming schools, I believe we must remain relentless, bold and ambitious to keep our state moving forward."
Although Pence left a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage out of his formal agenda, he asked lawmakers to put the issue to rest in 2014.
"Let's have a debate worthy of our people with civility and respect. Let's protect the rights of Hoosier employers to hire who they want and provide them with benefits that they earn. And then let's resolve this issue this year once and for all," he said, to applause from the assembled lawmakers, a majority of whom are Republicans.
Pence spoke before a joint session of House and Senate members held in the House chamber. Just one day earlier in the same space, a key House panel delayed a vote on the marriage amendment following hours of emotional testimony on the issue.
Lawmakers first approved the proposed constitutional ban in 2011. It must pass again this year to be put to voters in November. If lawmakers don't act, the process of amending the constitution would start from scratch.