Pence tax conference stirs ideas, controversy

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Mike Pence wants to make it easier for you to pay your taxes. The governor hosted a major conference at the State Government Center Tuesday with speakers that included both local and national experts.

They gathered in meeting rooms large and small to hear about the ins and outs of state tax policy, but in a luncheon speech to the invitation only conference the governor spelled out a goal that is easy to comprehend.

“How can Indiana create the simplest, fairest and most competitive tax structure in America?” asked the governor. “That should be our aim.”

He said it’s not about tax cuts. Trouble is a couple of noted conservatives were on the agenda talking about, you guessed it, tax cuts.

Economist Arthur Laffer suggested getting rid of the income tax and anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist talked about reducing it over time to zero.

That caused House Minority Leader Scott Pelath to cry foul.

“The voices represented there are the ones that are always looking for ways to slip out of paying their fair share,” said Rep. Pelath, “and it’s the regular men and women that end up paying the cost.”

And others staged a protest outside.

“Just think it’s kind of very interesting to have a closed meeting to discuss public policy,” said organizer John Strinka. “We’re of the opinion that public policy should have the public participating.”

Mike Pence shrugged off the criticism and promised to make use of some of the ideas generated at the conference.

“We’re gonna be looking to make tax simplification part and parcel of our agenda in this next session of our state legislature,” he said.

Specifics, he said, still haven’t been determined. The governor says his goal is make Indiana more competitive with other states when it comes to attracting jobs.

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