Governor Mike Pence was able to declare almost total victory Thursday in the wake of the 2015 session despite early skepticism from the General Assembly for much of his agenda -- in part because he took so much criticism for his handling of the state's so-called "religious freedom" bill.
There were several items on the governor’s agenda that lawmakers were at least hesitant to fully support. That includes a significant boost to charter school funding, dollars for next year’s state Bicentennial celebration, a major investment in Pence’s Regional Cities Initiative, and the proposed balanced budget amendment to the state constitution.
But the General Assembly ended up delivering all of them, including full funding for the Bicentennial and the Regional Cities program. Pence says he pushed hard for the latter in the final weeks of session.
“I really came to the conclusion that encouraging cities across the state of Indiana to think regionally and plan regionally could have a transformational effect on our economy in the long term,” the governor says.
House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) was asked if the figurative beating Pence took over the religious freedom bill controversy had any impact on delivering so much of the governor’s agenda.
“Well, I don’t know that anybody said that. I might have," Bosma says. "You know, it…yes.”
Bosma says it’s not unusual to give a governor – of either party – some deference.