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Bosma targets GOP chairmen in income tax fight

The argument over Gov. Mike Pence's proposed income tax cut has moved beyond the Statehouse walls but stayed within the Republican Party.

"I apologize for including you in this 'family discussion,' " GOP House Speaker Brian Bosma said in a three-page letter to all Republican county chairmen on Feb. 19 regarding the budget battle.

The letter was in preparation of a House vote on the proposed budget, which passed Monday night.

Bosma noted that Pence had expressed his "disappointment" that the Republican spending plan didn't contain his tax cut, and a number of party faithful reached out to legislators in response.

"While Senator (David) Long and I encouraged the governor to keep our discussions in his office while we reviewed options and solutions to any disagreement (as we successfully did on many occasions with Governor Daniels) our members are now faced with public discussions at Lincoln Day dinners and with our party leadership, and I felt it best that you have all the facts to help us move forward," the letter said.

Bosma then laid out why Republicans are prioritizing more education and road funding than Pence, and pointed out numerous ways the House Republican caucus is supporting the governor's "roadmap" through other legislation.

Most importantly, Bosma built a case against the income tax cut. He noted the Tax Foundation rates Indiana's income tax as the best in the nation among the 41 states that have income taxes, and instead focused on eliminating the inheritance tax faster than is in current law.

The letter ended by saying a "member of our political staff" would be contacting each chairman to make sure the letter was received and understood, and Bosma gave his personal cell phone out to answer any questions.

Allen County GOP Chairman Steve Shine said he appreciates that Bosma is keeping the political organizations informed, but it did not change his outlook. He acknowledged he has never received such a letter in his years in leadership.

"I wholeheartedly support Gov. Pence in his call for an income tax cut," he said. "I really do think that putting the money back in the pockets of Indiana taxpayers is going to help stimulate the economy and help small businesses. The governor deserves to have his roadmap for Indiana respected and adopted. Many other states are moving in that direction and we don't want to be lagging behind."

To contact Niki Kelly email her at nkelly@jg.net or follow her on Twitter @nkellyatJG.