Pence Enters Same-Sex Marriage Debate In State of State

By Eric Dutkiewicz - 21Alive

Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., delivers his 2014 State of the State Address.

January 14, 2014 Updated Jan 14, 2014 at 10:05 PM EDT

INDIANAPOLIS (21Alive) - Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., championed his first year in office Tuesday night at the annual State of the State Address.

Pence touted a year of educational expansion, improvement of roads and the largest tax cut in state history.

"I can say with conviction that the state of our state is strong and growing stronger every day," Pence says.

The governor did address the impending decision on whether a state constitutional amendment should move forward in the Hoosier state, saying he believes in marriage between one man and one woman; but preaches civility and respect amid the ongoing debate.

"No one, on either side, deserves to be disparaged or maligned because of who they are or what they believe," Pence says.

Pence hopes the same-sex marriage is decided sometime this year.

The governor yet again took the business personal property tax head on, calling it a "significant impediment to business investment."

"Taxing equipment and technology in a state that leads the nation in making and creating things just doesn't make sense," he says.

Most of the governor's half-hour address was spent on education. He advocated voluntary pre-K programs for disadvantaged children, continued use of vouchers, expansion of charter schools statewide and a creation of a teacher innovation fund for teachers to utilize more creative styles of teaching.

He even acknowledged political foes State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, D-Ind., and the Indiana State Board of Education.

"When it comes to setting standards for schools, I can assure you, Indiana's will be uncommonly high," Pence says. "They will be written by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers and will be among the best in the nation."

The governor also touched on his Healthy Indiana Plan health care initiative, which, he says, will help change the Medicaid system.

"We will continue to work in good faith with federal officials to expand our Healthy Indiana Plan," Pence says. "I will oppose any expansion of our health insurance system that condemns vulnerable Hoosiers to substandard health care or threatens the fiscal health of our state."

Pence also took a minute to thank the first responders and Indiana National Guard for their help during last week's winter storm and the November tornadoes in Central Indiana. He also commended the emergency workers who helped save Nathan Woessner, 6, when he was trapped in a sinkhole on Mount Baldy in August.

"For nearly three hours, no one gave up," the governor said while getting emotional. "That's the Indiana way."

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