INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Mike Pence said he won't give up fighting for his 10 percent state income tax reduction.
That promise came several hours after the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee adopted the alternate Republican budget that contains no tax cut.
On Friday, Pence issued a statement saying he was very disappointed with the House Republican budget, but that didn't stop Republicans on the committee from voting unanimously Monday to substitute their spending plan for Pence's original version.
The House Republican plan puts in substantial new money for schools and roads, but contains no income tax cut.
Republican lawmakers have made it clear that a tax cut is not at the top of their list of priorities.
"Education. Education. Education,” said Chairman Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville. “Close to our hearts. Close to our minds. Number one line item. Number one ticket in the House budget. To help the economy, help workforce training, and to help programs to stimulate economic innovation."
But when reporters approached Pence after a meeting with 4-H students and the New Castle Little League team, he made it clear he will continue to fight for the tax cut, and he insisted that Indiana can cut taxes substantially and stimulate the state's economy while still providing plenty of money for education and transportation.
"Leadership has said repeatedly that the possibility of income tax relief is still very much alive,” said Pence. “We take them at their word. But Hoosiers can take me at my word."
Meanwhile, House Democrats criticized the Republican budget, saying it isn't clear where the funds for many parts of the education budget, like vouchers and pre-kindergarten, are coming from, and they believe it will hurt urban schools.
"I think urban schools are going to really hurt in regards to this,” said Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis. “They've got money following the child, but it follows the child for some, but not all."
The committee will vote Tuesday on other amendments and then the full bill, which will then advance to the House floor.
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