Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

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Commentary

April 5, 2013

Legislator turned Governor focused on his tax cut

The headline fixation in the administration of Gov. Mike Pence has been his 10 percent income tax cut. It is, what Chief of Staff Bill Smith observes, "the shiny object" and one that Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley partially restored at 3.3 percent after it didn't make the House Republican budget.

The narrative after 80 days is an administration that has groped for a voice and a gravitas on the issues. Gov. Pence said at one point, "We have to do a better job of getting our message out."

But after spending several days deep in the gubernatorial warrens on the Statehouse second floor, what emerges is an array of numbers that when pieced together in what is now an incomplete jigsaw puzzle, a different story line emerges.

Gov. Pence's nine agenda bills are, for the most part, progressing. There was a staff review of some 2,200 bills that emerged prior to this long session, one that the Pence team had just seven weeks to prepare. According to Senior Policy Director Marilee J. Springer, there have been 95 meetings on individual pieces of legislation over eight weeks. There have been 138 meetings between the new governor and legislators.

And when one surveys the nine Pence "agenda bills" only one, a bill for treatment of compulsive gambling, is dead. The governor's second priority, SB465 - the Indiana Works Councils - passed the Senate 49-0 and the House 94-0. Most others have passed by wide majorities.

If you want to find animation from Gov. Pence, a conversation about his agenda invariably leads to a large chart on an easel just south of his desk.

"The thick blue lines are the six goals," Pence said, pointing to the chart. "Those are the six goals of the next four years in this administration. There isn't a week that goes by that we don't meet with our economic development team, meet with our legislative team, and ask, 'Where are we when it comes to increasing private sector employment?'

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