Pence In SOTS Address: Yes To Teachers and Roads, No To Taxes
Governor Mike Pence Tuesday laid out his plan for Indiana’s future – emphasizing a commitment to road funding, promising to protect teachers and schools from abnormally low test scores, and pledging to crack down on drug dealers.
Much of the governor’s address was spent on what he calls Indiana’s recent achievements – notably the state health care program HIP 2.0. Pence also spelled out his legislative agenda, reiterating his four year, billion-dollar plan to fix state roads and his support for a Senate Republican proposal to immediately boost local road funding by $400 million. And the governor made clear what he doesn’t support: taxes.
“Let’s invest in our roads, let’s maintain the Crossroads of America and let’s do it without raising taxes,” he said.
The House GOP road plan includes cigarette and gas tax increases.
Pence also stresses the need for more drug treatment options while repeating an idea he’s pushed before.
“If you are selling drugs to our kids, we are coming after you,” he said. “It’s time to get tougher on drug dealers in this state.”
The governor also praises bipartisan legislative leadership for joining him in an effort to ensure teachers and schools aren’t unfairly hurt by an expected drop in ISTEP scores.
Finally, after months of waiting, Hoosiers were able to hear where Pence’s stance on civil rights for the state’s LGBT people, although the governor providing no indication of legislative specifics on the issue.
The governor, reiterating a common refrain of his, says Hoosiers don’t tolerate discrimination while at the same time cherishing their faith. And Pence says no one should be harassed or mistreated, as he puts it, “simply because of who they are, who they love, or what they believe.” Yet Pence stresses the strong protections in Indiana’s Constitution regarding freedom of religion and conscience, delivering this guideline to lawmakers:
“I will not support any bill that diminishes the religious freedom of Hoosiers or interferes with the constitutional rights of our citizens to live out their beliefs in worship, service or work,” Pence said.