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Pence, Bosma review session

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence on Monday hailed an income tax cut legislators passed late Friday night, while also addressing a number of other bills.

The newest state budget calls for a 5 percent income tax cut starting in 2015 and then fully implemented in 2017. It also includes an immediate repeal of the state inheritance tax while continuing other business tax cuts.

Pence said repeatedly it was the “right tax relief at the right time.”

He said the income tax cut will put save Hoosier taxpayers $300 million annually when fully implemented.

Pence did acknowledge, however, that after weeks of vigorous debates lawmakers swayed him from the 10 percent income tax cut he sought.

“I think the tax relief we crafted together was better than what I was proposing,” he said.

He and GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma also weighed in on a number of other issues Monday – including some confusion over a bill involving the Common Core standards.

These national curriculum standards were adopted by the State Board of Education in 2010 but conservative Republicans have been pushing for a review of the standards.

“It’s important we have a public discussion in Indiana before we pass the point of no return,” Pence said.

But lawmakers also had to toe a fine line because stopping the standards might jeopardize a federal accountability waiver.

After the bill passed Friday, press releases from both supporters and opponents hailed it as a victory. One said the bill “paused” the standards and one said they continue.

Bosma acknowledged it was hard to write the bill because experts had “wildly divergent” opinions on the matter.

He said the standards for kindergarten and first grade are already in place and the bill does not change that. He also noted the second grade standards being put in next year are too far down the path to stop.

Bosma said he believes the bill pauses the process before grades three through 12 are implemented. That pause includes a legislative review as well as a State Board of Education review after Pence makes new appointments to the board this summer.

Pence declined to issue any veto threats but told reporters he has concerns about several bills headed to his desk. One is a Marion County government reorganization bill that eliminates four at-large council seats and gives the mayor more budget control.

He declined to name the other bills he is concerned about.

“We will carefully examine them and do what we think is right,” Pence said.