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April 17, 2013

Budget forecast may mean tax cuts

Governor says the April forecast is good news for his tax relief plan

(Continued)

Indianapolis —

Senate Tax and Policy Committee Chairman Brandt Hershman called the report “good news, served with a side of caution.”

But like Kenley, he expressed caution.

“It’s always better to have a debate over money you have rather than over money you don’t have,” Hershman said. “But we need to make sure it’s going to be money that we’re going to have.”

Both Kenley and House Ways and Means Chairman Tim Brown said the forecast means the budget bill that’s still being negotiated will likely contain a mix of tax cuts already proposed by the House and Senate.

That includes cuts to the inheritance, corporate and financial institutions taxes and a much smaller income tax cut than what Pence wants.

They believe the new forecast means they can build in about $500 million in tax cuts and still increase spending for road repairs and schools.

The House approved budget calls for $500 million in new road spending and restores about $331 million in education cuts. The Senate version of the budget calls for $400 million more in road money, plus additional education money the House approved.

The governor’s budget director, Chris Atkins, told the Associated Press that new revenue projections mean there’s enough money for both the increased road and school funding and for Pence’s 10 percent tax cut.

The Pence tax cut idea has never found a warm reception in the General Assembly. Republican leaders have been openly skeptical, and some Democrats have been scornful.

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane of Anderson repeated his doubts about the wisdom of a tax cut that will take about $500 million a year from state revenues but put only about $120 a year back into the pockets of an average Hoosier.  

He said the money would be better spent on roads, schools and workforce development.

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