Governor Mike Pence delivers first State of the State address

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Governor Mike Pence delivered his first State of the State address Tuesday night, spelling out his initiatives on tax relief, education and spending.

“I come before you to proclaim that the state of our state is strong and growing stronger,” Pence said. “If we will remain bold, confident and optimistic, I am positive we can lead our state from good to great.”

Pence campaigned on the promise of a 10 percent tax cut, an idea that has not been highly received by House and Senate leadership, even in Pence’s own party.

“By lowering the personal income tax rate by 10 percent, it will be official – Indiana will be the lowest taxed state in the Midwest,” Pence said. “Companies who are here will have one more reason to expand and we will give businesses outside Indiana one more reason to move to the Hoosier state.”

Pence highlighted several initiatives first unveiled in his budget presentation last week, including his plans for job growth and education.

“Our jobs budget is all about getting this economy moving, but we can’t succeed in the marketplace if we don’t succeed in the classroom,” said Pence. “We have to put kids first and ensure that every child in Indiana has access to a world-class education at public school, public charter school, private school or home.”

The governor also proposed an on-time incentive for post-secondary education funding, a plan he referenced on the campaign trail. In Tuesday’s address, Pence also unveiled another goal of his: to procure 3 percent of state contracts from businesses owned by veterans.

“They stepped forward for us, now it’s our turn,” Pence said.

The governor spoke of executive orders he signed last week, including the order requiring some state agencies to draft family impact statements to ensure new regulations do not negatively affect married, two-parent families, a measure that has drawn some controversy.

“Given the undeniable relationship between childhood poverty and unmarried childbearing, Indiana should seek ways to encourage strong, healthy families for our kids, our communities and our state,” Pence said.

The governor’s address marked his first lengthy address as Indiana’s governor, and his most detailed account of his overall agenda.

“Indiana’s best days are yet to come,” Pence said. “Let’s get to work.”

Reaction to Pence’s address was mixed from Indiana Democrats, who said they disagreed with the governor’s policies on education.

“I must admit to deep worries regarding the Governor’s plan,” said House Minority Leader Scott Pelath.

“I was hoping for a little bolder of an approach in terms of ideas,” said Senate minority leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.

Democrats also told Fox59 they felt their party deserved the credit for some of the governor’s proposals.

“There’s a number of points he brought out that House Democrats and Senate Democrats have championed for quite some time,” Pelath said. “We’ve been talking about the veterans’ unemployment rate being a disgrace for some time.”

Pelath also referenced Pence’s calls for more transparency with the state’s job development numbers, and his stance on poverty.

“He acknowledged one in five Indiana children live in poverty,” Pelath said. “We have different approaches on how to solve that, but I’m very grateful he brought that out.”

Pence cut several paragraphs from his prepared text. The governor’s office said Pence slashed his remarks due to time constraints, including a section on school safety in wake of last month’s deadly shooting in Connecticut.

Instead, much of the focus was on education, and Pence’s budget proposal.

Republican leaders also responded to the governor’s address, particularly to his calls for tax relief.

“We appreciate the words of Governor Pence,” said House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis. “We receive them respectfully, and we’ll work closely with the Governor to come to the right conclusion here.”