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Issue Position: State Budget

Issue Position

Location: Indianapolis

I am sure there will be no shortage of officials in state government congratulating themselves for the fact that Indiana has a $2 billion budget surplus. Since our constitution requires our state to have a balanced budget, I'm not sure why we need to pat ourselves on the back for something we are legally required to do.

The people of Indiana need to remember that this surplus was not built as a result of our state's booming economy. We still have too many people out of work, and an administration that has no job creation plan has done little to help them.

This surplus has been built by an administration devoted to hoarding your tax dollars instead of spending them on programs and services for the people of this state.

Their expertise has taken many forms. Instead of using federal stimulus dollars to help our schools, this administration chose to keep most of that money in the state treasury and build the surplus. But that trick pales next to their efforts in gutting funding for state agencies and schools.

Do not forget the decision to cut $600 million in state support for public schools in 2010 and 2011. Our schools did get some of that funding back, but not enough to prevent lasting cuts in programs and personnel.

Or look at the sorry plight of the state's Department of Child Services, which has reverted more than $225 million back to the state treasury, even as stories abound that reveal their failure to protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens. We have reached a point where we are supposed to congratulate this agency for actually using the dollars the Legislature appropriated for it to use, instead of turning so much back to the state.

And before we get too excited about this administration's track record of financial expertise, let us see how the upcoming independent audit does in revealing further incompetence beyond the $525 million in taxpayer dollars that we already have seen mismanaged.

As this governor wanders off into higher education, I suspect none of the concerns expressed here will matter much to him.

He will continue to tout his record and go on about his "taxpayer refund,' which is actually a credit that will increase refunds for some and reduce what others owe to the state. No one will see a check in their hands.

The real concerns will come once this governor has left office.

The impact will be felt by families across this state, who will have to ask themselves whether a $2 billion state surplus means much when you have to pay a bunch of fees to make sure your children get a proper education or if you get put on hold when you call a hotline to report suspicions of child abuse.

Let us think of those implications when we examine what is being "celebrated' today.

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