BROWNSBURG — If you see a red Chevy pickup truck rolling through town over the next three weeks, there’s a chance that the state’s future governor might be in it.
Mike Pence, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, kicked off his Red Truck Tour here to discuss his vision for Indiana, should he be elected.
He visited the Brownsburg Fire Territory and Pit Stop Barbecue where he talked at length about his Road Map for Indiana plan that focuses on educational advancements and lowering the income tax rate for Hoosiers by 10 percent. He praised town officials here who recently passed a proposed 2013 budget with a 12 percent tax decrease, noting that giving money back to the people is the best way to drive the economy forward and create jobs.
“The centerpiece for our Road Map for Indiana is to lower the personal income tax rate by 10 percent,” Pence said. “That does a couple of things that I get excited about. It puts several hundred dollars in the pockets of every working Hoosier, which as a family that’s lived on a budget most of our lives, a couple hundred in the billfold is always a good thing. Truth is, the most effective way to lower taxes on job creators in the city and on the farms is to lower the income tax rate.
“If you’re talking about really lifting the economy, what you want to do is create the conditions where for our business leaders, it makes sense to grow. According to our analysis, we were able to do a 10 percent across the board tax cut and still build our budget reserves. That’s how good of shape Indiana is in. I want to take the first dollar of our record budget surplus and put it in the bank and take the next two dollars and use it to grow the economy, not the government.”
Pence said his decision to run for governor after 12 years in Congress is because he has a passion to be a public servant.
“I believe in servant leadership and a servant always asks where am I needed most,” he said.
One of Pence’s largest platforms is revamping the educational system to encourage students to stay in school and ultimately graduate.
“I think the time has come to make career and vocational education a priority in every high school again,” he said. “The way you do that, I think, is on a regional basis. You bring businesses in Brownsburg and Hendricks County together with schools and local civic leaders and you say that there are four or five career pathways that we can build into our high school curriculum that have a job waiting at the end of it. I was out at Warren Central, which has one of the premiere vocational educational programs in the state, and you have people that are learning to be dental assistants in high school. The key here is that we’d partner with schools and businesses and say to our kids that if you’re not ready to go right to college out of high school, we’d like to give you the vocational education and training to go right to work. The fresh idea here is that you’d do it on a regional basis.
“I’ve talked to a number of people in a variety of communities around the state that have said to me that a lot of kids drop out of school because kids do see it as relevant. They know for whatever reason that they aren’t ready to go onto school yet so they look at high school and say ‘what is this doing for me?’ It’s just college prep. Whereas if you create these career pathways in the schools where someone sees at the end of the line there’s a good paying career job, that’s how you do right by our kids and right by our economy.”
Pence said traveling the state has shown him what he calls “the skill gap.” Even though there are more than a quarter of a million Hoosiers out of work, he sad he still frequents businesses that are looking to hire but just can’t find qualified applicants.
“I’ve had a lot of friends in the inner city community where you have some heartbreaking numbers, 40 to 50 percent graduation rates,” he said. “If I’m elected three weeks from now, we’re going to lean into that. It’s the right thing to do for our kids, to say to every kid ‘we want you to go to college’ but also say to every kid in Indiana, ‘if there’s something else you’d like to do that doesn’t require a four-year degree, we want to give you a run at maybe your fourth year of high school to get that first year of post secondary under your belt. Businesses all over the country are looking at Indiana. If we lean into this fight over workforce development in the state, you’ll have a lot of businesses saying ‘wow, there’s a state where their high schools are affirming every academic pathway and celebrating that.’”
He complimented local officials here, saying they’ve set a good example.
“I really want to commend these guys in the community for leaning into the tax reform fight here,” he said. “It sends a powerful message. It says that we in Indiana have our house in order and we believe in people getting a return on their investment. I think the success here locally is a testament to the principle that leadership matters. What you’ve had here in Hendricks County and Brownsburg is local leadership that’s understood the opportunity that you have, given the proximity to major interstates, quality of life, proximity to Indianapolis, to the airport, and is leaning into the fight to make Brownsburg even more attractive and competitive for attracting investment.”
He said Indiana should also be an example.
“The one thing I know for sure is that the cure for what ails this country will not entirely come from Washington, D.C.,” Pence said. “I’m absolutely convinced, having served for 12 years, that our founders were right when they designed a government on the national level of limited and defined powers. The government that governs least governs best.
“I’ve spoken on a number of occasions privately with Gov. (Mitt) Romney, my colleague (vice presidential candidate) Paul Ryan, and my other colleagues in Congress about saying that if we’re going to turn this economy around, the fiscal fortunes of government, it’s going to be essential that they not just cut spending in Washington, but they permanently reduce the size and scope of the federal government by giving back to the states what essentially they can do better.”
Pence said the best case scenario for health care reform is right here.
“I think this is one of the most important elections of my lifetime, and one of the reasons is that it’ll be our best opportunity to repeal Obamacare,” he said. “I believe it needs to be repealed and I believe it erodes the freedom of every Hoosier by ordering every citizen to buy health insurance, whether you need it or want it or not. It results in a tax increase on every business and individual. It’ll result in insurance premiums going up, not down, and it’s already cost jobs in Indiana.
“We’ve had a major manufacturer announce that they’d not expand new plants because of the medical device tax that’s included in Obamacare. I’m working tirelessly the next three weeks to make sure that we elect a president, Senate, and House that will repeal this legislation and start over with the kind of health care reforms that we’ve been promoting in Indiana with our Healthy Indiana Plan. We’ve demonstrated the ability to innovate, promote wellness, and create incentives for people to live healthier lives and lower the burden on taxpayers and on themselves and on the cost of health care, but we can’t do that with this top down approach to Washington, D.C.”