INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOWO): There hasn't been a big rollout, but Governor Mike Pence's legislative agenda for the upcoming session is essentially in place.
Pence's centerpiece proposal will be his billion-dollar road funding plan, with about half that money requiring approval in the 2016 session. He's endorsed a Senate plan to add $400-million for local roads. The governor has also called for a bill to shield teachers from an expected drop in ISTEP scores, but isn't signing on yet to calls to replace the test, saying only that the issue deserves study.
Pence will seek enabling legislation for this year's expansion of the Healthy Indiana Plan and is also asking for an additional $42-million for the Regional Cities Initiative — House Speaker Brian Bosma has grumbled the governor has put legislators in an awkward position by announcing he'd fund three regional projects, including a proposal for Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana, instead of two without first consulting legislative leaders about authorizing the extra spending.
For the first time in four sessions as governor, Pence isn't expected to pursue tax cuts or tax reform. He says this year's payoff of an unemployment insurance loan from the federal government amounts to a tax cut for businesses.