INDIANAPOLIS | House Republicans used a procedural maneuver Thursday to avoid having to vote against Republican Gov. Mike Pence's proposed income tax cut.
During debate on amendments to House Bill 1001, which addresses the state's 2014-15 budget, state Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Crothersville, proposed adding the Pence tax cut to the House Republican budget proposal. The plan currently not only omits the income tax reduction but also spends more money than the governor wants.
"This tax cut will be extended to families, small business, the people that make Indiana the great state that it is," Goodin said. "It's a great proposal."
However, state Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, objected to Goodin's proposed amendment because House rules do not permit amendments that contain the same language as a bill pending.
House Bill 1418, which did not advance out of committee, is the same version of the governor's tax cut that Goodin proposed.
The sponsor of that measure, state Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which produced the House Republican budget that doesn't include the tax cut.
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, sided with Torr and ruled Goodin's amendment out of order. An appeal of Bosma's ruling by Democratic leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, was rejected on a party-line vote.
Pelath said Pence's proposal to reduce the income tax rate to 3.06 percent from 3.4 percent is the best idea Pence has had and Pelath planned to support the tax cut if the House was allowed to vote on it.
"Our governor was elected for one sole reason — he supported a 10 percent reduction in Indiana's income tax," Pelath said. "I think it's worthy of discussion."
He suggested a House Republican obsession with protecting the state's more than $2 billion budget reserve is the reason they wouldn't allow a vote on the plan to reduce taxes for Hoosiers.
"This surplus, which we feed and worship like it's some idol, was built with (federal) stimulus dollars that never got out into the economy because the previous governor kept them in the state's back pocket so he could stimulate his fiscal reputation instead," Pelath said. "We need to have a vote on Gov. Pence's signature item."
The House Republican budget, which spends $30 billion during the two-year period starting July 1, increases funding for education, roads and most state agencies compared to the 2012-13 budget.
Pence said last week he's "disappointed" the budget doesn't include his income tax cut. Brown said the final budget may be changed to add the governor's tax cut once the state's revenue forecast is issued in April.
A House vote to send the budget to the Senate is expected Tuesday.