Governor Mike Pence focused on the economy, education, and gay marriage in his 2014 state of the state address. He gave the speech before the Indiana legislature on Tuesday night. The governor said that Hoosier employers should be allowed to hire and fire whomever they choose.
The sentence occurred shortly after he urged people to respect the opinions presented on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate. Indiana's Republican-controlled house and senate are working on a constitutional marriage amendment. The proposed amendment would define marriage as being between one man and one woman. A federal district judge struck down a same-sex marriage ban in Oklahoma before the speech.
Pence also urged the Indiana legislature to remove the business property tax. Ohio and Illinois have already removed the tax, and Michigan is wants to phase it out. Business owners believe that the tax reduces competitiveness and prevents additional investment. While the governor urged the legislature to repeal the tax, he cautioned them not to place increased fiscal pressure on residents and on local governments.
Although he began the speech by focusing on the economy and on jobs, Pence moved onto educational issues. Pence asked for additional funding for Pre-kindergarten education programs, high school vocational training, and the creation of educational vouchers for preschool programs. The vouchers would include public and religious program vouchers, and he urged the legislature to increase charter school funding.
Pence stressed his belief in giving parents more educational options, but he also addressed issues facing teachers. He warned legislators not to penalize teachers who transfer to underperforming schools. Indiana teachers are evaluated using the RISE evaluation tool. This evaluation tool judges teachers based on the student progress. If students do not show significant improvement, the teacher does not earn raises and can lose her job.