Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks at an innovation showcase Thursday.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks at an innovation showcase Thursday. Darron Cummings/AP

Trump’s VP Pick Supports Shrinking the Federal Workforce, Performance-Based Pay Raises

Mike Pence has made a career as a small-government advocate.

This story was updated on July 15 to reflect that Trump confirmed he will pick Pence as his running mate.  

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Friday morning tweeted that he has selected as his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), who served 12 years in Congress before becoming governor of the Hoosier State. 

Pence has a long history of advocating for a smaller government, attempting at several turns to limit the roles and responsibilities of the public sector and to shrink the size of the federal workforce. Labor groups are likely to detest the selection, as Pence has battled with unions in his home state and fought to cut collective bargaining rights at the federal level. 

Some of Pence’s moves as governor have ushered in policies friendly to the civil service, however, and he has at times sought to add new areas to the government’s purview.


As a congressman, Pence cosponsored several pieces of legislation targeting federal employees. He lent his name to the 2010 Federal Workforce Reduction Act, which would have limited agencies to hiring just one employee for every two that left. Agencies would have competed for the right to bring on new workers from a “federal workforce hiring pool,” which advocates said would have forced officials to justify each potential hire. The measure would have exempted the departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense and Homeland Security.

Pence also cosponsored a proposal to freeze federal civilian pay in fiscal 2011. While that particular bill did not become law, feds did not receive an across-the-board pay increase that year. As governor, however, Pence has overseen salary bumps for state workers, albeit on a pay-for-performance basis. Indiana state employees meeting expectations on their 2015 performance ratings received a 3 percent raise this year; those exceeding expectations, a 4 percent bump; and workers rated outstanding, a 6 percent increase.

“Indiana deserves a government as good as our people,” Pence said in announcing the increases. “This year, because of the excellent public service demonstrated throughout state government, I am pleased to authorize a pay for performance increase in 2016.”

In 2015, Pence signed into law a measure that would allow federal retirees living in Indiana and covered by the Civil Service Retirement System to take a $16,000 tax deduction on their state taxes. The law was intended to reimburse the former feds who paid an equivalent of Social Security funds even though Indiana does not tax the benefit.


In Congress, Pence supported a national “right to work” bill to prohibit mandatory enrollment in unions. He also supported as governor a measure to ban labor groups from requiring non-union members to pay “fair share” fees.

"We think that right-to-work is an enormously important asset to our economy, but I also strongly support it because I don't think anyone should be required to join a union as a condition of their employment," Pence has said. Federal employee unions are prohibited from charging fair share fees, though the fees' prevalence at the state level has been used to justify the practice of “official time.”

He has advocated repealing a National Labor Relations Board rule requiring work sites to advertise employees rights to collectively bargain, and sparked protests in his state when he fought to end Indiana’s “common construction wage” on public projects. Similar to the federal prevailing wage, the law had set the minimum pay for contractors working on government-funded construction projects. Pence used his own campaign funds to drum up support for the measure and fight against union opposition. In Congress, Pence attempted to limit U.S. Postal Service unions’ ability to appoint a member to the agency’s board of governors, and cosponsored a bill to prohibit federal construction contracts from requiring bidders to hold an agreement with a union.

Government Operations

Pence has advocated for shrinking the size of government, repeatedly calling for a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. He notably supported limiting the federal role at the state level, rejecting as a “federal intrusion” $80 million in proposed federal grants to support Indiana’s preschools.

The former congressman cosponsored several iterations of measures to ease the abolishing of federal agencies and programs. He supported the Federal Sunset Act, which would have created the Federal Agency Sunset Commission to review and justify the existence of each agency every 12 years. He has supported a slew of measures to restrict federal agencies’ ability to issue new rules and regulations.

Pence also cosponsored bills to boost the oversight of federal employees’ purchase cards and to prohibit the Transportation Security Administration from referring or giving uniforms or badges to employees who did not complete law enforcement training.

In a rare effort to boost the scope of government, Pence once pushed Indiana to create its own government news service. The entity would sell its news stories to small newspapers and also publish directly to the public. After significant pushback, Pence withdrew the proposal.

Pence has at times publicly voiced his opposition to Trump’s policy proposals; when the governor accepts the vice presidential nomination at the convention next week, he will have the opportunity to demonstrate whether he plans to fall in line with the man at the top of the ticket and his views on how to run an effective government. 

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