- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Fiscal concerns hang over Indiana lawmakers looking to cut state taxes and create new education programs as they hit the midpoint of the 2014 session.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Tuesday he’s hopeful that measures including the creation of a preschool voucher program win approval in the Senate. He acknowledged concerns voiced by Senate leaders about any programs bearing major price tags.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, has been particularly vocal about fiscal restraint on the heels of a December budget forecast showing the state could come up roughly $300 million short in tax collections.

When a reporter pointed out that Kenley even spiked one of his own proposals after legislative analysts showed him the price tag, Bosma joked, “That makes me feel better about myself, because he’s killed several of mine over the years.”

Bosma’s comments came as lawmakers began a brief break before starting the second half of their 2014 session next week.

Democratic House Minority Leader Scott Pelath suggested lawmakers pack it up early and end their session immediately. He accused Republicans of focusing on issues that matter little to most residents, including a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage and an effort to curb the population of feral cats.

Democratic proposals, including a request to study violence against women, found little traction among majority Republicans.

“We have had numerous chances to fully address these problems, but we have avoided looking for answers,” Pelath said. “If there is such a thing as a textbook case of missed opportunities, the first half of this session is it.”

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