INDIANAPOLIS - Governor Mike Pence laid out his legislative agenda Thursday for his second year in office. Among his plans are proposals to invest more money in infrastructure, increase access to education and cut taxes for businesses.
Pence says his "road map" for 2014 builds on the momentum Indiana has already gained.
"The time has come for Indiana to provide access to pre-K education for all the disadvantaged children in our state," Pence said.
The governor's agenda includes several education initiatives, including the establishment of a voucher program for low-income families. He proposes increasing the number of charter schools, and creating a fund to support teachers who work in low-performing schools and charters that serve mostly underprivileged children.
"We spent a lot of time talking in recent years about parental choice, student choice," Pence said. "I think it's time we give teachers some choices, to be able to choose where they want to teach without worrying about losing the pay they've earned."
Pence's agenda also includes a $400 million investment to expand the state's highways.
More controversially, Pence proposes phasing out the state's business personal property tax.
"When we look at neighboring states, it's very clear that the fact that Indiana has a business personal property tax on the books is a disadvantage," Pence said.
Pence said improving the quality of the state's workforce will be a priority for 2014, including investing in training programs.
And, while the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state constitution has gotten a significant amount of attention, Pence says the conversation about family must go beyond the definition of marriage.
"We must make it more possible for more families to prosper and put a priority in the tax code on raising children in the Hoosier state," he said.
Democrats responded to Pence's plans for 2014 Thursday night, with House Minority Leader Scott Pelath arguing that the governor isn't offering a "striking vision" of where the state needs to go. He said the governor's agenda forgets traditional public classrooms and leaves the state's middle class by the side of the road.