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Gubernatorial candidates talk policy at forum

Brandon Smith
Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana’s three gubernatorial hopefuls discussed Indiana’s policy future during a forum at IUPUI Tuesday.  Led by former Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard, the forum was not a direct debate between candidates, but a public conversation between Shepard and each hopeful, one at a time.

Brandon Smith prepared several reports on key issues addressed in those policy discussions.

Workforce Development

For all the candidates, better preparing students isn’t just about getting them ready for college.  GOP candidate Mike Pence says he wants to strengthen career and vocational education for high schoolers, something he feels has been lost in the last 30 years.

“We need a seamless integration between our education institutions, our business on a regional basis and all of the rest of our assets and bring those together to make sure we give our young people in high school the widest range of career paths and choices,” Pence said.

Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham says every student, regardless of whether they plan to go to college, should have some sort of training coming out of high school. 

Democrat John Gregg says he wants to strengthen the educational system from top to bottom, emphasizing early childhood education through career and vocational training.  None of the candidates went into specifics when it comes to funding education.


The three candidates all say taxes can be cut.

GOP candidate Mike Pence praised Indiana’s fiscal strength, applauding Governor Daniels and the legislature for helping produce a roughly two billion dollar surplus. 

Moving forward, Pence says he would devote one third of the state’s surplus to savings that would protect against a fiscal crisis.  He says the remaining two thirds would go towards growing the economy through income tax cuts. 

Democratic candidate John Gregg says the state must be careful with its surplus.

“I think the key to our economic development, though, is not necessarily to rush and give all that away and give it back,” Gregg said. “We have to ascertain the actual dollar amount.  I think the second thing we need to do is make sure that we have a very, very fair, broad-based tax policy.”

Gregg says he would eliminate the sales tax on gasoline and cut corporate taxes for Indiana-based companies. 

Libertarian candidate Rupert Boneham says he wants to see greater transparency in the fiscal side of government.  And he says his administration would look for taxes that can be cut or eliminated entirely.


The candidates also found common ground on energy policy.

Chief Justice Shepard asked GOP candidate Mike Pence, Libertarian nominee Rupert Boneham and Democratic candidate John Gregg about how Indiana can balance its future energy needs with environmental concerns.  And the answers were fairly similar. 

Gregg says there are several options to explore, including wind and solar energy, as well as coal and natural gas. 

Meanwhile, Boneham said the state needs to further use the alternative sources of energy it already has.

“I’ve known it all my life, driving up and down 65 on my motorcycle, you know, and you’re leaning into the wind still trying to go forward – it blows there!” Boneham said. “It blows hard and we need more windmills.”

Pence says maintaining the low cost of energy would be his first priority as governor but also talked about exploring alternative fuel sources.