By Ken de la Bastide
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Governor Mike Pence believes compromises on two key pieces of his legislative agenda will be reached before the March 14 end of the Indiana General Assembly session.
Pence stopped in Anderson on Tuesday at the annual Lincoln Club Dinner of the Madison County Republican Party.
A legislative goal for Pence has been the elimination of the business personal property tax. But his plan has local units of government concerned about the possible loss of $1 billion in tax revenues.
“Our focus is entirely on competitiveness,” Pence told the Herald Bulletin on Tuesday evening. “How do we make Indiana more attractive to the kind of investment that will create good-paying jobs in the years ahead?”
He noted that Illinois and Ohio do not have business personal property taxes, Michigan is phasing the tax out over the next decade and Kentucky’s tax rate is lower than Indiana's.
The governor said he's encouraged that members of the House and Senate are considering legislation that would bring significant reform of Indiana's business personal property tax.
“We’re currently negotiating with members of the House and Senate to bring those bills together in a way that will give more options to our local communities,” Pence said.
The Senate bill would eliminate the business personal property tax for small businesses that fall below a certain assessed value.
Lawmakers are considering legislation that would give communities a county-wide option to do away with the tax, with the possibly of a “super abatement” that would provide a tax abatement of up to 20 years, instead of the current maximum of 10 years.
“The wisdom of what has been proposed is the super abatement,” Pence said. “The idea being for some counties that don’t have a significant industrial base, the ability to say, going forward, we’re going to take the option and remove the tax.
“For those counties where that is not appropriate or possible, the super abatement gives them the ability to give the long-term tax relief for a business looking to grow and locate in that county,” Pence continued. “It levels the playing field by making all Indiana counties more competitive.”
Pence expressed support for two pieces of legislation that would create a pilot program for pre-kindergarten programs in the state and a proposed study committee.
“I believe every child deserves starting kindergarten ready to learn,” he said. “For disadvantaged kids, open the door to scholarships to allow them to participate in high-quality pre-K programs that exist in all communities all over Indiana. It’s time has come.”
Pence has encouraged lawmakers to approve legislation to launch the pilot program and do a comprehensive study simultaneously.
“Use the pilot program to inform the study committee,” he said. “Pull together all the best resources and create a suitable framework for all the disadvantaged kids. The time is now to start the program and extend opportunities to disadvantaged kids and create a sustainable program.”
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.