MARK KIESLING: State can't swallow Pence cuts in one bite

2012-12-14T00:00:00Z MARK KIESLING: State can't swallow Pence cuts in one bite nwitimes.com
December 14, 2012 12:00 am

Editor's note: This is Mark Kiesling's final column. He wrote it before his untimely death Thursday afternoon.

 

The late conservative wit William F. Buckley Jr. once said it was unfair to say government spends money like drunken sailors.

"It's an insult to drunken sailors," he said. "At least they are spending their own money."

Indiana Gov.-elect Mike Pence is pledging he will make good on a promise he made during his last campaign, stunning in and of itself.

But is it a promise we can afford? And will it end up splitting a Legislature now controlled by Pence's Republican Party?

In short, he is saying if he can, he will push through a 10 percent income tax reduction.

"That's my priority," he said.

Although none of the GOP has yet packed a toothbrush and spare leisure suit to hole up in an Illinois hotel, there are rumblings a-plenty that Pence will have a fight on his hands from his own party.

I know no one wants to pay taxes on the homes they own or the money they make, but they know if they don't there won't be any roads to drive on, no police and fire protection, no garbage pickup, no water when you turn on the tap ... well, you get it.

Can Indiana afford this kind of tax cut and still continue to function? Where is the money going to be cut from?

Education already has been slashed unmercifully. Public safety isn't very far behind, and there in no tangible proof this will create the economic engine Pence envisions.

The GOP has, under outgoing Gov. Mitch Daniels, reduced the corporate income tax rate and gotten rid of the odious inheritance tax, which is kind of like stealing from the dead.

I mean, the dearly departed paid taxes on that money during their lifetime only to see from above (benefit of the doubt here) that it's being taxed again.

Still, this is going to leave a $200 million hole in the money used to pay to run the state.

The abolition of 10 percent of the income tax would cut an additional $534 million by 2015.

That's about 4 percent of the state's entire budget of $14.2 billion.

It's a nice dream, but a dream nevertheless. Some legislators, eager not to offend an incoming governor but realizing the magnitude of the cuts, are proposing compromise.

It is still our money, even though we have given it to the government to run Indiana.

Let's hope we don't have a General Assembly full of drunken sailors.

The opinions are solely those of the writer.

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