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General assembly

Tax cut ad ruffles GOP lawmakers

Pence-aligned group’s video takes dire tone


– An ad campaign in support of Gov. Mike Pence’s income tax cut isn’t helping relations between the executive and legislative branches.

“None of us like the ads,” said Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne. “Washington-style attack ads have no place in our state. They are inaccurate and unfair.”

GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma also held a meeting with reporters Thursday to correct what he called “10 days of misstatements” in the ads being run by the Indiana chapter of Americans for Prosperity.

The television ad has been airing for more than a week in the Indianapolis area. It uses music and graphics similar to those in a well-known 2008 re-election ad for Mitch Daniels. It shows headlines about surpluses, tax refunds and the tax cut proposal. Then it switches to ominous headlines about the House leaving the cut out, spending more and ducking a vote on the cut.

“Will Indiana grow the economy or grow government spending?” it asks. A radio ad has also been running.

“These paid advertisements are completely erroneous,” Bosma said.

For instance, he said, the ad claims the House budget includes $1 billion more in spending than Pence’s proposed budget. But he said that includes $300 million put into a tuition reserve fund and $170 million set aside to pay down existing debt and construct university buildings with cash. He called these actions smart conservative budgeting.

Bosma said the ads have not helped the dialogue between Republicans in the legislature and Pence.

Pence wants an income tax cut, while Bosma and Long are more interested in accelerating the phase-out of the state inheritance tax. Bosma also noted that he urged Pence last year not to announce the tax cut proposal on the campaign trail until further study could be made.

Americans for Prosperity has a close relationship with Pence, who told reporters Wednesday that he asked them to use a more positive tone, including selling the merits of an income tax cut rather than attacking the GOP House.

He also spoke of Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment not to speak ill of a fellow Republican.

“My message was to friends and allies near and far that it’s essential we remain positive,” Pence said.

Bosma said he took Pence’s comment about Reagan as “self-analysis” or “a bit of a mea culpa.”

AFP state director Chase Downham sent a prepared statement but declined to answer questions about future ads. The ad is still available to watch on the group’s website.

“The message of our ad is an undisputed fact – Hoosier taxpayers know how to spend their hard earned dollars better than government does,” he said. “This issue isn’t about House Republicans. It’s about the taxpayers and small businesses that want and deserve this tax cut.”