House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said Pence had a chance to "douse the flames" on the gay marriage debate, but did not. Instead, Pelath said, the governor seemed more concerned about protecting his political career - noting the marriage issue could cloud his chances if it shows up with him on a potential 2016 ballot.
"He wants finality before the 2016 election. That's what he really means," he said.
Pelath criticized Pence for offering "small, symbolic solutions" to real problems such as low wages and unemployment.
"Mike Pence believes a governor should do very little, and he's succeeding," Pelath said after the speech. "His solutions are simply not equal to the tasks ahead."
Pence asked lawmakers to support his plans to phase out the state's business personal property tax, expand charter schools, launch a new scholarship program allowing low-income children to attend preschool and create a tax credit to promote adoption.
The General Assembly's top Republicans - House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long - sung the governor's praises during a news conference following the speech. Both oversee supermajorities of Republicans in their respective chambers.
"It was confirmation for my team that we have a lot of the same goals," Bosma said. "Really all of us have the same goals. But we're pointed in the same direction on some of those solutions as well, with road funding and focus on early childhood education, continued smart tax reform and worker training."
Pence made no direct mention of the tensions this past fall involving Democratic schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz, his office and the members of the State Board of Education. Instead he thanked Ritz and the board members and led a standing ovation for Ritz.