Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Candidates for IN governor talk education, jobs, taxes & energy policy

Indiana’s three gubernatorial candidates each sat down with former Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard at IUPUI Tuesday to discuss the state’s policy future. 

For all the candidates, better preparing students isn’t just about getting them ready for college.  GOP candidate Mike Pence says he wants to strengthen career and vocational education for high schoolers, something he feels has been lost in the last 30 years.

“We need a seamless integration between our education institutions, our business on a regional basis and all of the rest of our assets and bring those together to make sure we give our young people in high school the widest range of career paths and choices.”

Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham says every student, regardless of whether they plan to go to college, should have some sort of training coming out of high school. He would also like to see more counselors in schools.

“You know, instead of bringing out more standardized testing, we bring back that human side of school and we start finding where children’s aptitudes are and we start guiding them into that.”

Democrat John Gregg says he wants to strengthen the educational system from top to bottom, emphasizing early childhood education through career and vocational training. 

None of them went into specifics when it comes to funding education.

The candidates found common ground on energy policy. Shepard asked the three about how Indiana can balance its future energy needs with environmental concerns. 

Boneham says the state needs to further use the alternative sources of energy it already has.

“I’ve known it all my life, driving up and down 65 on my motorcycle, you know, and you’re leaning into the wind still trying to go forward – it blows there!  It blows hard and we need more windmills.”

Gregg says there are several options to explore, including wind and solar energy, as well as coal and natural gas.

“And I think if we’re going to continue to expand our manufacturing base and be energy self-sufficient, coal is part of the answer.”

Pence says maintaining the low cost of energy would be his first priority as governor but also talked about exploring alternative fuel sources. 

On the issue of taxes, the candidates all say cuts can be made.

Pence praised Indiana’s fiscal strength, applauding Governor Mitch Daniels and the legislature for helping produce a roughly two billion dollar surplus.  Moving forward, Pence says he would devote one third of the state’s surplus to savings that would protect against a fiscal crisis.

“The first dollar you use to strengthen your reserves, to make sure that we put money in the bank against those rainy days that might be just around the corner.”

He says the remaining two thirds would go towards growing the economy through income tax cuts. 

Gregg says the state must be careful with its surplus.

“I think the key to our economic development, though, is not necessarily to rush and give all that away and give it back.  We have to ascertain the actual dollar amount.  I think the second thing we need to do is make sure that we have a very, very fair, broad-based tax policy.”

Gregg says he would eliminate the sales tax on gasoline and cut corporate taxes for Indiana-based companies.

Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham says he wants to see greater transparency in the fiscal side of government.  And he says his administration would look for taxes that can be cut or eliminated entirely.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.