Lawmaker bail out Pence with $5.5M for bicentennial projects

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers are bailing out the state’s former governor, Vice President Mike Pence, after the Republican’s efforts to pay for now-completed projects celebrating the state’s bicentennial foundered.

A provision tucked into Indiana’s next two-year budget sets aside $5.5 million to pay for an elaborate plaza built outside the Statehouse in Indianapolis and upgrades to the state library to mark last year’s state bicentennial.

Lawmakers were skeptical when Pence first pitched the plan in 2015. The former governor won them over with a proposal to lease out the state’s cell towers, which could provide the money.

But Pence struggled to make the plan work. His successor Gov. Eric Holcomb pulled the plug on it this year.

Democratic state Rep. Gregory Porter says Pence was counting on “magic money that didn’t appear.”