One would be hard-pressed to find someone who enjoys paying taxes but the dollars paid are meant to provide vital government services, such as infrastructure, public safety and health programs.

In the latest round of questions for the six Republican candidates for governor, the Indiana Capital Chronicle asked U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, Brad Chambers, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Eric Doden, former Attorney General Curtis Hill and Jamie Reitenour where they fell on the state’s biggest tax issues.

The following four questions were shared with all of the candidates and each were asked to limit their responses to 150 words. Their responses are printed as submitted, with only light edits for spacing or full names.

In the reliably red Indiana, the winner of the fiercely competitive Republican primary could go on to be Indiana’s next governor, succeeding the term limited Gov. Eric Holcomb. The primary election will be held on May 7 and early voting opens next week.

Just one Democrat, Jennifer McCormick — the state’s former Superintendent for Public Instruction — qualified for the primary ballot, making her the presumptive nominee. Donald Rainwater won the nod from the Libertarian Party in a private convention.

Property taxes continue to be a major issue for homeowners — what major changes would you support? For instance, would you limit annual assessment increases? Would you exempt homestead property altogether? Please expound.

  • Braun: For the past five years, I have visited all 92 counties, and one of the top issues I consistently hear from Hoosiers is property taxes. As Governor, one of my top priorities is looking at solutions and working with the General Assembly to fix this problem, and every option that reduces property taxes while maintaining basic constituent services will be reviewed.
  • Crouch: In 2008, while a state representative, I voted for the largest property tax cut in our state’s history. I am open to reforming and reducing Hoosiers’ property tax burden, but I am the only candidate who will fight to eliminate Indiana’s individual income tax. Hoosiers are being crushed by Bidenomics. It costs $11,400 more today than it did three years ago just to meet basic needs. My plan will put $2,000 back in the pocketbook of the average Hoosier.
  • Doden: Last year, Hoosiers got hit with the largest property tax increase in 20 years while facing unpredictability due to inflation caused by Washington D.C.’s reckless spending, and the wide variation in property valuations resulting from inflation. Immediately, I support strengthening property tax caps for seniors and limiting the property tax burden for Hoosier homeowners. Hoosiers who are over 65 should be able to stay in their homes, period. This plan will give seniors peace of mind, and provide them certainty to plan their budgets on fixed incomes.
  • Reitenour: Indiana is a generational state and property ownership is vital to the stable communities that are dear to us! No citizen should ever fear losing the home they purchased – to tax foreclosure. There is no overnight fix, because property tax funds the localities and because changes require legislative agreement. I will work toward my goal of ZERO property tax on homesteads in intermediate phases.
    First, eliminating property tax for senior citizens’ homesteads; their fixed incomes can’t keep up with assessment increases.
    Second, homestead assessed values that are fixed upon purchase. I’ll coordinate with all 92 counties (and their taxing units) about their base taxes, referendum taxes, budget efficiency, and how their spending has changed with rapid increases over recent years. We will set budget baselines, determine the impact of each property tax phaseout, and quantify the State assistance each locality will need to continue meeting the needs of their communities.

Note: Indiana, as ranked by the business-friendly Tax Foundation, has one of the nation’s best property tax structures, coming second only to New Mexico. Much of the consternation surrounding property taxes hasn’t been Indiana’s rate, which is low compared to peer states, but rather the high percent increase many property owners experienced after COVID-19 upended the housing market. 

Additionally, Crouch provided the link to a CBS News story for her quote on $11,400 increase in the cost of basic needs, which is based off of an analysis by Republican members of the U.S. Senate Joint Economic Committee.

We’re in the midst of a tax review task force and cutting our income tax to 2.9%. We’re consistently ranked one of the best states when it comes to our tax environment for businesses. Where else would you propose to trim taxes? Please be specific.

  • Braun: Reducing the size of government is the key to cutting taxes, and as Governor, I will work through every state agency to find ways to save money while delivering high-quality services to taxpayers.
  • Chambers: The state legislature has done a good job in ensuring Indiana’s tax environment is competitive — keeping us ranked in the Top 10 states — and I’m looking forward to seeing what the task force proposes. However, I would like to see us be ranked in the Top 5 states and believe that we can get there in a responsible way that ensures we can still invest in education, law enforcement and our must vulnerable Hoosiers.
    Through strategic planning and a growing economy bringing in new inbound revenues and resources, we can lower taxes across the board while not sacrificing key programs and services — especially as demand for them decreases with increased economic prosperity. My first focus will be lowering property taxes.
  • Hill: My opponents are engaged in political gimmicks that sound good to voters but are undeliverable. Axing the income tax sounds great in theory, but in reality, that would lead to an $8 billion shortfall that would have to come from somewhere else. Our plan takes a measured approach to immediately provide relief to Hoosiers struggling to make ends meet. We will slash the Mike Braun gas tax, cut the corporate income tax, and eliminate the income tax on young earners and entrepreneurs and on retirement benefits for our seniors. These calculated cuts will provide immediate relief to Hoosiers without putting Indiana’s financial well-being in jeopardy. 
  • Reitenour: Hoosier families are making difficult changes to their everyday living as a result of the crippling inflation that we are experiencing. I’m considering Florida’s example of strategic sales tax holidays to reduce checkout line totals, and gas tax holidays to reduce prices at the pump. These will immediately help every Hoosier.
    Income tax is not my first area of concern. Our flat rate is nationally competitive and need-based credits make effective rates even lower. My priorities are property tax (previous question) and consumer taxes.
    To accomplish these priorities, we will focus on getting spending under control. We are putting the government on a diet. We’re going to hear presentations about every line item in the state budget, prioritize them, and trim the fat – eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse. This is in addition to massive savings we’ll enjoy from eliminating the IEDC and all DEI offices and initiatives (see next question).

Note: Crouch’s plan to ‘Axe the tax‘ has been a cornerstone of a her campaign and something her opponents have routinely used to attack her. Braun was one of the lawmakers in the Indiana House of Representatives who played a role in passing the 2017 gas tax, which he has previously said played a vital role in shoring up Indiana’s infrastructure.

Taxes are important to Indiana’s revenue. Any cuts mean sacrificing that stream of dollars. Where would you make program cuts? Please avoid anything vague or overly generalized about auditing agencies or identifying efficiencies. Where, specifically, would you cut expenses?

  • Chambers: I believe the number one job of a governor is to grow the state’s economy, raise wages and put more money in Hoosiers’ pockets. When we do that and bring new inbound revenues and resources into the state, we’re able to lower the overall tax burden on Hoosiers while maintaining necessary programs and services they rely on. And as we raise wages and lift Hoosiers up economically, their quality of life is better, Medicaid use goes down, crime goes down and health outcomes improve, which allows government to be smaller and taxes to be lower.
    The only way we can shrink government and lower taxes is by growing the economy and building a better future for Indiana.
  • Crouch: I have been very specific regarding my tax proposal: Axe the Tax, which is the phase down and elimination of the Indiana individual income tax. I will prioritize this phase down and elimination along with several key policy objectives. 
    Axe the Tax will be funded through comprehensive government efficiency and cost cutting initiatives; redirecting annual budget surpluses to income tax reduction, generating new revenues from the new businesses and jobs this tax reduction and elimination will create, attract, nurture, and grow, as well as from the additional economic growth they will foster.
    It will not be easy but, through these actions and using economic triggers and phase-ins as a guardrail, we can do it.
  • Doden: Smart, long-term fiscal management by the General Assembly over the last twenty years has created opportunities to lower Hoosiers’ tax burden by paying down debt, increased tax revenues from a growing economy, and limiting the comparative growth of government spending.
    Indiana can also use the revenue it now raises much more efficiently – for instance, our Indiana Main Street Initiative would take 10% of the money the state currently spends to attract corporations and instead reinvest it in small towns and main streets across the state. Likewise, our Regional Cities 2.0 Program would restore control of READI funding dollars to local communities that best know their own needs.
  • Hill: When Mike Braun authored the largest tax increase in Indiana history, part of that was in our state’s gas tax which would generate $1.2 billion for infrastructure concerns. That fund has surpassed the goal, so it is time to ease the burden on Hoosiers by reducing the gas tax back to pre-2018 levels. We must also take measured cuts to bloated government agencies like the Indiana Department of Education, which employs 250 bureaucrats. Instead of spending money on Hoosier students, we are funding hefty salaries for government employees. We need to reduce the size of this agency by half and return authority to local school districts. These are cuts we can make to ease the burden on hardworking Hoosiers.

Note: Medicaid is the fastest-growing portion of Indiana’s $44 billion biennial budget. The state’s largest unfunded debt obligation is a pre-1996 teacher pension fund, which is rapidly shrinking after lawmakers used unanticipated COVID-era revenues to make targeted payments. Notably, senators refused to fund the state’s income tax cuts without a $1 billion payment to the fund in 2023. 

Note: Chambers led the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) for two years under Holcomb, resigning last August. Doden held the position for two years under former Gov. Mike Pence.

Every Hoosier wants to know, ‘Where do my tax dollars go?’ In your own opinion, what’s the purposes of taxes and why are they necessary for state government? What are the guardrails to protect overtaxation?

  • Braun: We can protect from overtaxation by running government like a business and delivering value in services Hoosiers use. More money in Hoosiers’ pockets means more economic growth which allows for more and better services without raising taxes.
  • Chambers: Hoosiers rightfully want to see what they get for what they pay. That’s why I would treat taxes as not just dollars but as investments in our communities, our state and ourselves. Overtaxation is unacceptable, as is overregulation that requires unnecessary license and permit fees and other hidden “taxes.”  Taxes are, of course, necessary to support a variety of important roles that only government can fulfill: build infrastructure, fund education and law enforcement, and support the most vulnerable among us. However, they can be invested smarter — especially on infrastructure — by prioritizing those projects with a high economic value that can bring in additional revenue. As governor, I’ll look to strategically lower taxes at every opportunity so that Hoosiers aren’t stuck paying taxes that aren’t necessary to improve quality of life. 
  • Crouch: Every dollar that comes to government has a name and face attached to it—it’s taxpayers’ money, not the government’s.
    As Auditor of State, I led Indiana to be rated a national leader in government transparency.
    As governor I will downsize government, have independent audits, and eliminate unnecessary rules and regulations.
    Indiana’s taxes must be balanced against Hoosiers’ cost of living and economic goals. If the state’s tax burden diminishes our quality of life and economic growth, then we have failed our citizens.
    I will limit the growth of government; Indiana’s state budget has risen fifty percent in the last decade. My plan entails keeping the budget flat plus the rate of inflation.
    “Axe the Tax” will include triggers to support our budget in case of an economic downtown.
    We will give money back to Hoosiers, grow our economy, create jobs, enhance our quality of life—that is the core of “Axe the Tax.”
  • Doden: I believe in limited, effective government. That means bringing people together from every part of our state – from businesses, non-profits, faith groups, and educators – and finding ideas to create change and solve problems for Hoosiers.
    Some of those problems are ages-old: we need safe neighborhoods, good streets, low health care prices, a great education system, clean water, and reliable power – all while keeping taxes low and living within our means fiscally. Other challenges are ones of our day – we need to have a plan for 2.7 million Hoosiers who live in small towns, invest in rural broadband, and create a new generation of Hoosier entrepreneurs.
    Our goal is to create conditions where every Hoosier has a fair shot to live in a safe, thriving community with real economic opportunity. We believe in Indiana’s future, and its people.
  • Hill: Our state government is bloated, and we don’t know where our tax dollars go because lawmakers in Indianapolis won’t tell us. The government’s job is to secure our liberties, educate our children, and provide basic necessities like quality infrastructure. Our economic plan calls for a zero-based budgeting system that would require each government agency to start each fiscal year at zero and account for each budget dollar requested. This would ensure that no agency gets overly bloated and force government agencies to be transparent with Hoosier tax dollars.
  • Reitenour: Taxes support government operations, which constitutionally include to provide for the common defense, general welfare, protection, and education of its people, and to pay its debts.

The Republican party is supposed to represent personal liberty through smaller government and lower taxes. Despite many cycles of Republican Governors and Republican-majority congress, Indiana’s government has not gotten smaller and our taxes have not gotten lower.
I am running to make our conservative state look conservative, like conservatives have been electing Republicans to do. They have failed. I’ve been called to do this by Almighty God, whom I serve. I got here, to the astonishment and disappointment of the Indiana Republican party, because my calling is real and my team is working tirelessly. My opponents are PAYING for your vote with tens of millions of dollars in advertisements, and government will continue growing under their leadership, just like their campaign spending has.

Note: As State Auditor (now referred to as State Comptroller) Crouch oversaw the Indiana Transparency Portal, which launched prior to her tenure. 

The Indiana Capital Chronicle will be sharing one more installment in this question-and-answer format later this week with a focus on environmental issues — candidates already have their questions and are currently preparing their responses. The GOP candidates have already opined on both the economy and education.

The deadline to register to vote is April 8. To check your registration status, visit

© Indiana Capital Chronicle, 2024 The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to giving Hoosiers a comprehensive look inside state government, policy and elections. The site combines daily coverage with in-depth scrutiny, political awareness and insightful commentary.