INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mike Pence hasn't ruled out spending his campaign funds on television ads to garner support for a proposed income tax cut the Indiana House refused to include in a two-year state budget plan it approved Tuesday.
"I'm very committed to making sure that Hoosiers know because of the fiscal strength of our state we have the opportunity to fund our priorities, including increasing funding on roads and schools, and cut taxes for every Hoosier in the city and on the farm," Pence said.
The Republican governor told reporters Wednesday he's "still disappointed" the Republican-controlled House budget spends more than he wants and doesn't reduce the state income tax rate to 3.06 percent from 3.4 percent. That 10 percent rate reduction was the centerpiece of Pence's campaign for governor.
"We remain committed to making our case for lowering the personal income tax in Indiana to members of the General Assembly and to people across the state of Indiana," Pence said.
Pence did not respond directly when asked if he would veto a budget that does not include an income tax cut.
He said instead that he's confident lawmakers will add the tax cut to the 2014-15 budget once the revised state revenue forecast, issued in April, shows Indiana can afford it.
House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, attempted last week to force an up or down House vote on the governor's tax cut, but Republicans used a procedural maneuver to avoid going on record opposing it.
The governor said he welcomes the bipartisan support for his income tax cut proposal.
"I appreciate the fact that now the members of both political parties in the General Assembly have expressed support for income tax relief, and I look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats to bring tax relief to Hoosiers as a part of the final budget act," Pence said.
The budget battle now shifts to the Republican-controlled Senate, where state Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, will lead an Appropriations Committee review of the budget contained in House Bill 1001.
Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said he expects House-approved spending increases on education and infrastructure will get a close going-over by the Senate, and Pence's tax cut, "which is not dead," will definitely get another look.
"It's going to really depend on what we think we can afford to do, and that stuff will go on between the House, Senate and governor's office for the next couple months," Long said.