(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Indiana’s state lawmakers return to the statehouse Monday with the requirement to do one thing: pass a state budget.
The 2013 Legislative Session will be a so-called “long session” because lawmakers are bound to pass a new two-year budget before the session adjourns April 29. Projections are that the budget will be around $29 billion.
Republicans are expected to dominate the narrative at the statehouse, with supermajorities in both the House and Senate and new governor Mike Pence.
State Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), representing House District 68, says despite the Republican supermajorities, there can still be bi-partisanship.
“I think we need to be working together and coming up with good solutions to the problems we have,” McMillin said. “What I don’t want to see is anybody shut out of the process.”
Pence campaigned on a promise to deliver a 10-percent tax cut, but whether that can be realized will depend largely on those in his own party. House and Senate leaders Brian Bosma and David Long have previously said they aren't sure the state can sustain a lower tax rate over the long term if the economy were to falter.
McMillin said the tax cut will be one of the most important things talked about during the session.
Social issue legislation has the potential to distract from the budget negotiations. Lawmakers could vote on a proposal to allow prayer in school. A constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage and civil unions – which earned approval in the 2011 session – will receive a second vote. If it passes, the amendment will go to the ballot in November for Indiana voters to decide.
As usual, education will be another hot topic in the legislature. McMillin said there will be initiatives focusing on young children as well as the ongoing education of adults.
“Many of the business owners I speak with say they’d like to hire, but they have trouble finding the people with the necessary skill sets,” said McMillin.