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Candidates for Indiana governor pitch small-business plans

Candidates for governor pitch small-business plans

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Eight candidates from three parties said Tuesday that Indiana hasn’t done enough to support small businesses, though they differed on what they would change.

Tuesday’s forum by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and Americans for Prosperity Indiana brought together all six of the candidates on the Republican primary ballot–Mike Braun, Brad Chambers, Suzanne Crouch, Eric Doden, Curtis Hill, and Jamie Reitenour–plus presumptive Democratic nominee Jennifer McCormick and Libertarian nominee Donald Rainwater. The forum’s questions focused on the problems facing small businesses.

Health care costs and education figured prominently in the discussion. Chambers and Reitenour said they would push lawmakers to abolish noncompete agreements for doctors while Rainwater said excessive health insurance regulations are driving many of the costs. McCormick said voters need to undo 20 years of Republican supermajority policies that allowed hospital monopolies to arise.

On the education front, Chambers, Reitenour, Crouch, and Doden said they would focus on building career pipelines while in school and encourage students to seek apprenticeships after high school. Braun said schools should provide parents and students with more information about jobs that don’t require a college degree. Hill said schools should go back to the basics of teaching subjects such as civics and history and ensure vocational opportunities are available early.

The candidates showed arguably the most difference in taxation. Crouch has made her call to abolish the state income tax a cornerstone of her campaign and returned to that promise several times during Tuesday’s forum. She said eliminating the state income tax would encourage more people and more businesses to come to Indiana and it would encourage people already in the state to spend more, thus adding to the economy.

Hill said he would rather first eliminate the gas tax that state lawmakers added in 2018. Reitenour, Braun, and Doden all said they want to investigate the possibility of reducing or eliminating property taxes, particularly for seniors. McCormick said while she would support reviewing Indiana’s existing tax system, the real issue is hidden taxes stemming from what she characterized as improper spending priorities.

“That is happening because the system we have built is not paying attention to our expenditure priorities,” she said.

Rainwater said he would support eliminating the state income tax as well as capping property taxes.

One business owner told News 8 afterward, seeing and hearing the candidates lay out their plans caused him to reconsider his voting plans. Brandon Reeve said he had largely made up his mind going into the forum but wasn’t so sure afterward. He said he felt voters have several good candidates to choose from and that’s a good thing.

“I really was very impressed with quite a few people,” he said. “Read and definitely do your research. Don’t just vote based on names.”

The primary is on May 7. If you want to vote in the primary and are not registered to vote, you have until April 8.