Indiana governor debate touches on jobs, gun laws and Syrian ref - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Indiana governor debate touches on jobs, gun laws and Syrian refugees

Posted: Updated:
John Gregg John Gregg
Rex Bell Rex Bell
Eric Holcomb Eric Holcomb

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The three men hoping to become Indiana's next governor faced-off Monday night for the second time in as many weeks.

The topics included the economy, universal background checks and Syrian refugees.

After Democratic former House speaker John Gregg, Republican Lieutenant governor Eric Holcomb and Libertarian Rex Bell took the stage at the University of Indianapolis, the focus turned to the economy and how to make Indiana's strong one even better by attracting not just more jobs, but high-paying ones.

We need to continue to diversify, as we are, our economy, logistics and agribusiness and biosciences, high tech, not just in manufacturing," Holcomb said. "We are number one in the nation in manufacturing, and we'll continue to lean into advanced manufacturing."

"If we stay focused on those areas and take politics out of education and better align our educational system with our skilled jobs demand, we can fill that skilled jobs gap that we've got, and we can move Indiana forward," Gregg said.

Bell says his plan to eliminate all property taxes would be a start.

"We think that we can do away with some of the licensing restrictions that stand in the way of small businesses." Bell said. "Certainly small business is the main contributor of jobs in this state,  and we think with those combinations, we can create an atmosphere where people can start businesses easily, and people will want to locate jobs in Indiana."

The candidates were also asked where they stood on the issue of Syrian refugees, with a court Monday saying Gov. Mike Pence can't bar the refugees who he says can't be properly vetted for terrorism.

"One thing Libertarians have always looked at is that everybody is an individual," Bell said. "And when you take a state and say we have one nationality that we're going to block, you know, I think that's wrong."

"When you hear the FBI director stand up before the country and say 'we don't know if they're infiltrating this network,' I understand where he came from and the oath that he took," Holcomb said. "But, we'll continue to understand the court's decision as this works through."

"I was raised a Methodist," Gregg said. "What do we do if they decide they're going to ban all Methodists from moving into Indiana?  Or the next thing, we're going to ban all Catholics? It's wrong to ban people based on their ethnicity, their race, their religion and their nation of origin."

The three were also asked where they stand on universal background checks for would-be gun owners. Bell says background checks put too much power in the government's hands.

"We could very well say, 'Well I worry about these Libertarians ... they don't toe the line like they should. Maybe we shouldn't allow them to have guns,'" Bell said. "Anytime the government treads on the 2nd Amendment, we need to be very, very careful."

Holcomb says he thinks there should be no changes to background checks.

There is just one more debate for Indiana's gubernatorial candidates on Oct. 25 in Evansville.

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