To anyone following Indiana politics, Gov. Mike Pence's State of the State address Tuesday offered some familiar ideas. It did not, however, offer solutions.
The question every Hoosier must ask about every government proposal is simple: How do we pay for this idea?
No issue says this as clearly as Pence's remarks on eliminating the business personal property tax.
"Taxing equipment and technology in a state that leads the nation in making and creating things just doesn't make sense," Pence said in his address to a joint session of the Indiana General Assembly. "And it looks like our neighboring states have figured that out. Ohio and Illinois don't have a business personal property tax, and Michigan lawmakers just voted to phase theirs out."
So far, so good. But what about specifics on how to pay for this tax cut of up to $1 billion?
"To make Indiana more competitive, I want to urge all lawmakers in both chambers to find a responsible way to phase out this tax. But a word of caution: Let's do it in a way that protects our local governments and doesn't shift the burden of a business tax onto the backs of hardworking Hoosiers" Pence said.
Indiana has a good business climate even without this tax being eliminated. But don't forget Indiana has the highest state sales tax in the nation, tied with California, at 7 percent.
Indiana has one of the most regressive tax systems in the nation, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
Pence's plan to cut this tax for businesses comes at a good time for discussion but not for immediate action. Next year, the General Assembly will craft a new biennial budget. Spend time discussing how to accomplish this tax cut without hammering local government or, even more important, Hoosier citizens.
Pence offered other ideas, from increasing support for adoption to offering more budget flexibility to charter schools. We'll add holding charter schools accountable, the same as traditional public schools, to that list.
The governor has been good at offering ideas. Now he needs to become adept at offering solutions.