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GOP urged to support governor’s tax cut plan

National conservative group soon to begin ad campaign

– A national conservative group is stepping in to support Gov. Mike Pence’s proposed income tax cut.

Americans for Prosperity is pushing legislators to spend less and cut taxes through an advertising and grass-roots campaign.

“It’s a big test for the state,” Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips said.

He challenged Republicans in charge of the executive and legislative branches on whether they are going to use the power for the status quo or be bold with a tax cut.

The House-passed version of the budget spent about $1 billion more than the governor’s recommendation and did not include the income tax cut. Instead it accelerated a phase-out of the inheritance tax.

GOP legislative leaders have expressed caution about the idea, which would cost the state about $500 million in revenue annually.

Phillips said usually his group is pushing the left to fiscal integrity but noted he wants to hold both parties accountable.

“A lot of time Republicans campaign on free-market conservative values, but sometimes it’s not easy to cut government spending and they really struggle with that,” he said.

Chase Downham, state director of Americans for Prosperity, said the level of spending that Pence proposed was appropriate and the General Assembly needs to prioritize cutting taxes to spur the economy rather than new education spending.

“Now is not the time to talk about compromise,” he said.

The group would not say how much would be spent on television, radio and mailers and would only confirm that ads will begin soon in Indianapolis.

The first ad co-opts music and graphics used by Gov. Mitch Daniels in a well-known 2008 re-election ad. It starts by showing positive headlines about surpluses, tax refunds and the tax cut proposal. Then it switches to ominous headlines about the House leaving out the cut, spending more and avoiding a vote on the cut.

“Will Indiana grow the economy or grow government spending?” it asks, before sending supporters of the cut to www.fightforindiana.com.

House Speaker Brian Bosma said he considers Americans for Prosperity an ally and welcomes any opinions on the tax cut proposal.

Twice, he noted that the Indiana General Assembly has cut taxes 10 times in the past 10 years and $360 million in automatic taxpayer refunds are on their way to residents currently filing tax returns.

Bosma has said the House and Senate are considering whether it is more sustainable for the state to further cut corporate taxes, accelerate the inheritance tax elimination or embrace Pence’s income tax cut.

“There’s going to be a tax cut by the time we are out of here. I’m confident of that,” he said. “The question is which tax, how much and when.”

nkelly@jg.net

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