RICH JAMES: Pence throwing out more tax-cut gift ideas

2013-12-22T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Pence throwing out more tax-cut gift ideasBy Rich James nwitimes.com
December 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I suspect Gov. Mike Pence thinks he’s Santa Claus. He is sporting gifts – or promises thereof – for just about everyone.

But don’t be misled by that red and white suit.

While some see the governor as jolly old St. Nick, he is little more than a poster child for the Tea Partiers.

Of course, we are talking taxes, or Pence’s quest to make Indiana the least taxed state in the country, regardless of how it will cripple local government and schools.

Things are quickly coming into focus.

Many criticized the governor when he proposed a 10 percent cut in the income tax before he had taken office.

When his fellow Republicans objected, Pence settled for 5 percent. For a guy making $30,000 a year, the cut will amount to a $51 savings. That’s enough to buy a carton of cigarettes. For the guys making bigger money, the cut becomes something to write home about.

We now see the income tax was just the start of the tax attack.

A couple weeks ago, Pence said he wants to eliminate the personal property tax on business, which will reduce state income by $1 billion a year.

Pence didn’t say how the state would make up for the loss, but he didn’t rule out increased property taxes for the guy saving $51 a year because of the income tax reduction.

The business personal property tax revenue, by the way, funds local government and schools.

And just when you thought you had seen it all, Pence pulled another tax cut out of his back pocket.

Pence last week said he wants to cut the income tax for families with children as a way to promote marriage and childbearing in Indiana.

If you are assuming the tax cut wouldn’t apply to gay and lesbian couples with children, you likely are correct.

As usual, Pence was short on specifics. While he said he wanted the current exemption of $1,000 per child increased, he didn’t say by how much.

And, as is the case with elimination of the personal property tax on business, Pence said nothing about how the state would recoup that lost income.

He only would say the two latest tax cuts fall under his plan for a revised tax code, but he declined to say what all that entails.

What Pence did say was that he’d let the Republican-controlled Legislature decide how to carry out his vision. Is that like the blind leading the blind?

So we’ve got a governor throwing multiple tax cuts against the wall, hoping some will stick.

That will look good at re-election time, but what about paying for these cuts. Why is that being kept secret? Is it going to be that painful for the middle class?

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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