Hot button issues
The Indiana House and Senate have agreed on the same language for many bills this year, but still have work to do in the final two weeks of the 2013 session to hammer out their differences on more than 200 bills. Some of the measures headed for the House-Senate “conference committee” negotiations are:
The budget bill — Both chambers agree on some key points in a two-year spending plan including more dollars for K-12 schools and more money for road repair. But the House version rejects Gov. Mike Pence’s call for a 10 percent cut in the personal income tax rate and the Senate version only offers a 3 percent cut.
Pence has repeatedly said he wants the 10 percent cut in the final budget bill that comes to him for his signature.
Americans for Prosperity, a proponent of fiscal responsibility and lower taxes, on Monday announced poll results that show that 54 percent of Hoosier voters approve of Pence’s budget, saying returning Indiana’s budget surplus to taxpayers was the best use of the money. According to the poll, more voters — Democrat, Republican, and Independent — support the Pence budget proposal than the House and Senate budget proposals combined; 53 percent of Independents, 41 percent of Democrats, and 49 percent of Republicans favor the Pence budget over the alternatives.
School vouchers — The Senate passed the House version of the bill that expands the state’s private school voucher program, but also added changes the House may not support: it increases the number of students eligible to receive vouchers without attending public schools first and increases the size of the vouchers by $100 a year each of the next two years.
Criminal code — Legislation that rewrites Indiana’s criminal code for the first time since 1977 contains many measures that both chambers agree on, including tougher penalties for violent crimes and lower penalties for many drug crimes.