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Governor’s plan offers optimism for Hoosiers

My Opinion
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor

When a new year starts, it’s natural to want to be optimistic. Most people seem to liken a new calendar to having a clean slate.
But often there are things out of our control that makes us think we’re in for the identical things. Going into the second month of 2013, we’re still dealing with many of the same challenges that were staring us in the face at the end of last year: unemployment rates that are still too high, an economy that, despite sputtering, can’t seem to get any steam, gas prices that seem to skyrocket on a whim, the heated debate over gun control, etc.
One topic has been put behind us, for the most part, and that’s the election. Those who were successful in their bid have moved into their office. Some are familiar to us; they were elected to another term. Others are new, either because they defeated the incumbent or because the incumbent was unable to seek the same office again due to term limits. It doesn’t matter how they got into office, or whether they’ve returned for another term or they’re new on the job, we’re waiting to see if they’ll keep their promises made during their bid for office, how they’ll attempt to do so and what the repercussions ‘ or, to be more optimistic, perhaps benefits ‘ will be for us.
One such newcomer, Mike Pence, R-Columbus, gave us Hoosiers an outline of his plan a couple of weeks ago. The new governor, in his first State of the State address, on Jan. 22, said Indiana ‘is strong and growing stronger because we have good government ‘ ‘
Pence, who follows fellow Republican Mitch Daniels, after his eight years as governor, spoke of balanced budgets and state surpluses. He omitted that this was possible, in part, due to education cuts made at the state level a few years back. Then, an accounting error was discovered that found millions of dollars.
But let’s not dwell on the negative. Remember, it’s a new year, a time of new beginnings. Pence said, ‘We have to do better.’
I agree. You probably do, too. But for all of our good intentions, we can’t seem to agree on how to make that happen.
For Pence, who acknowledged that 250 thousand Hoosiers are out of work, one in five children in Indiana lives in poverty and many of our schools are lagging behind in providing quality education, his ‘roadmap’ to a better state started with a moratorium on any new regulations so as not to burden Hoosier employers with ‘unnecessary red tape’ and a budget that ‘holds the line on spending, funds our priorities, builds our reserves and lets hardworking Hoosiers keep more of what they earned.’
To accomplish that, state government has to live within its means. Pence said that’s done by never spending more than is brought in. From balancing our personal budgets, we know how difficult that can be at times. It involves setting priorities. For Pence, those priorities include a funding increase for education to include providing $18 million during a two-year period to help provide skills for Hoosiers who are looking for work.
And, while spending money on these and other projects, as well as meeting other obligations, Pence proposes lowering income taxes during the next two years by 10 percent.
At a time when many employees are taking home less money for doing the same ‘ if not more ‘ work, thanks to an economy where the costs of goods and services continue to rise, coupled with an increase in federal taxes, this is welcomed news.
If you haven’t read or heard Pence’s State of the State (it was printed in the Jan. 30 issue of this newspaper), you might be wondering how this would be possible if the governor doesn’t plan to spend more than it receives and he’s already said he intends to put quite a bit of money into education and other projects.
According to Pence, the tax reduction will do other things, such as put half a billion dollars into the private economy for spending, investing or saving; lower taxes on small businesses, thus, providing the potential to hire more employees and/or purchase new equipment, which, in turn, would bring in more money to the state coffers; and make Indiana the lowest taxed state in the Midwest, which will, hopefully, attract more businesses which would lead to the hiring of more employees, etc.
Only time will tell if Pence can make good on his promises and whether his plan will be carried through.
I, for one, am willing to be optimistic about what’s in store for Indiana and each of us. Let’s begin the new year by working together. And when we do disagree, which we will do from time to time, let’s offer positive alternatives rather than toss negative utterances.
After all, we have a clean slate. Let’s use it to our advantage.