INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Mike Braun, who launched himself into the top tier of candidates for Indiana’s GOP senate nomination, may be running as a conservative businessman. But in his few years in the Indiana state house, he’s already voted to hit middle-class Hoosiers’ paychecks with a massive and much-derided tax increase.
Rep. Braun made a statement last week when he announced he raised and self-funded his way to a $1 million third quarter, significantly closing the gap between Congressmen Messer and Rokita and himself. According to him, the injection of funds will help him pitch the conservative, pro-growth message he’s been running with since entering the race in August.
That message may not survive what’s been dubbed the most “vicious” race in the country, however. Rep. Braun has only served in the legislature for three years, but that was still long enough to vote for last year’s suite of tax hikes on gas and car registrations that finished Indiana’s process of creating a more regressive tax burden that hit middle class families. The tax hikes, including the new 10 cent per gallon gas tax, added up to one of the largest tax increases for Hoosier families in years.
Economists made clear that working-class Hoosiers would feel more of a crunch under the new tax policies, while even conservative leaders panned the move by Rep. Braun and his colleagues. “Did any of the Republicans thinking of voting for another tax hike on consumers say they would do this when they asked for their citizens’ vote in the last election? If not, why double-cross their voters?,” Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, told the Indy Star.
It remains to be seen if the Star’s prediction will come true: that the “gas tax increase… could come back to haunt some lawmakers during the 2018 campaign season.”
“Rep. Braun may be establishing himself as a top-tier candidate, but is he ready for the scrutiny that comes with that?,” said Will Baskin-Gerwitz, Senior Media Strategist for the Indiana Democratic Party. “Even if Republicans were willing to overlook his hypocrisy for his conservative credentials, he shouldn’t expect Hoosier voters to forgive him for forcing them to pay more at the pump after slashing taxes for millionaires like himself.”