IN Focus: Gov. Holcomb’s headline-making week

INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's new governor dropped several big announcement at a press briefing Thursday, including a headline-making decision to pardon an Indiana man who was wrongfully convicted years ago.

In a news conference of his own, Keith Cooper said he wants to shake Gov. Eric Holcomb's hand and thank him for giving him the pardon he's so desperately wanted all these years.

Holcomb told reporters Thursday that he believed Cooper had waited long enough and shouldn’t have to endure any more uncertainty.

"Many pieces of info that had been brought forward have changed,” Holcomb said.

"Thanks to Eric Holcomb, I'm a free man," said Cooper.

He believes Pence owes him an apology and said "no comment" when asked if there was anything he'd say to the current vice president. "There are children present," he quipped during Friday's news conference.

"To go in front of Pence, begging for a pardon, I felt was an insult because he should have apologized and given me that pardon. He let Holcomb… Eric Holcomb… who was in office for 30 days pardon me, and I'm thankful for that. I’m very thankful that he had the heart to do what Pence couldn’t do."

In the video above, our panelists discuss Holcomb's headline-making week and his stance on a gas tax proposal making its way through the Statehouse.

Holcomb stopped short of fully supporting the House Republican roads plan on Thursday.

While Holcomb said the state needs to raise revenue, he did not say how that should be done.

The House GOP plan calls for a 10-cent increase to the Indiana gasoline tax and additional registration fees.

"There are various revenue sources and I view them as dials," Holcomb said. "You dial it up or dial it down."

House Democrats have their own plan, which they say will not cost taxpayers extra money. Instead, they want to pull money from the state's reserves and put a freeze on tax breaks for corporations and high-income residents.

Holcomb said he is willing to work with Democrats, but pointed out some flaws in their plan.

"I don’t think their plan they put forward addresses our needs and protects our fiscal strength as the state of Indiana," Holcomb said.

House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) called the Democrats' plan "misguided" after session Thursday afternoon.

"The plan doesn’t accurately fund what we need, imperils the state's triple-A bond rating and would take money away from schools," Bosma said. "So, strike one, strike two, strike three. No."

Meantime, House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) is emphasizing his party's plan would mean no tax increase.

"We’ve identified ways, if there is a will across the aisle, to have sizeable investment in our state’s roads and bridges while maintaining revenue streams as they are," Pelath said. "You talk to citizen on the street and first thing you’ll hear from him or her is 'didn’t we have all this extra money?'"

The Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association is siding with the Democrats in this debate. They are working to launch a campaign aimed at rallying the public to speak out against HB 1002.

"Those rates are way too high, going to drive business away from Indiana, going to drive people fueling across state lines because they’re going to save significant money," said Scot Imus, the executive director of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.

The group plans on displaying flyers at gas pumps across the state that read: "We already have a $2 billion surplus but Indiana wants more. Say no to Indiana's proposed gas tax."