INDIANAPOLIS - Governor-elect Mike Pence said he's going to push forward with his tax cut plans, even though Republican legislative leaders are questioning whether the state can afford it.
Pence campaigned for his plan Thursday at a statewide conference of business leaders.
Pence said his 10 percent state income tax cut would pump half a billion dollars a year into the Hoosier economy.
It would reduce taxes for a family of four by $228, and for a small business with an income of $300,000 a year by $1,000.
Pence said he believes strongly that putting more money in Hoosiers' wallets and businesses' cash registers will produce investment, which will lead to more jobs.
But House and Senate leaders Brian Bosma and David Long are questioning whether the state can sustain a lower tax rate over the long term if the economy falters.
Pence said he respects them, but he has two reasons to believe a tax cut will work.
"Number one, our state is in a very strong fiscal position with the largest surplus in our state's history," Pence said. "Secondly, because of that strong position, we have choices."
The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has already endorsed the tax cut.
It believes the reduction would stimulate existing businesses and attract new ones from higher-tax states.
"Most every business in the State of Indiana would benefit from that tax cut,” said chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “And that would provide them money to invest in equipment and training and personnel."
Grant Monahan heads the Indiana Retail Council, which hasn't taken an official stand yet.
But anything that gives taxpayers more money would allow them to spend more as consumers.
"I think it's intriguing that it puts more money in the pockets of consumers, who would shop at our members' stores," said Monahan.
Democrats said this could be the first test of Republican cohesion.
"From my perspective, it's going to be interesting to see if the leaders in the House and the Senate can withstand the pressure that they're going to feel, I think, from the governor's office, and maybe from some of their own members of their caucuses to do the tax cut,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane of Anderson.
If the tax cut becomes reality and Indiana becomes the lowest-tax state, Pence says Indiana ought to put that message on every billboard entering the state.