I noticed some similarities between two stories involving availability of state money both of which are at least superficially peculiar given the State’s recent announcement of a $2 billion surplus. Perhaps someone with better knowledge of the state’s fiscal processes can tell me whether the cases are similar or not, and whether they have anything to do with the announced surplus.
The first story has to do with a story by Niki Kelley in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette concerning the availability of State money to combat domestic violence. The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence says the coalition has had to fight with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to get all the money that is appropriated to it.
Indiana Criminal Justice Institute spokesman Gary Abel [confirmed] that $344,000 of funding for the domestic violence prevention and treatment program was reverted to aid the state’s bottom line at the end of fiscal year 2014 in June.
All agencies were told by [Governor] Pence’s Indiana Office of Management and Budget to revert money – or not spend everything appropriated.
Doing the math, in the ICJI’s case, the bulk of the $500,000 it reverted must have come from the domestic violence program. “Abel said the money was reverted because there was no plan submitted on how to use it.” So, the State’s explanation is that the money was there but it’s the Coalition’s fault for not submitting a plan for spending the money.
The other story I saw was by Ron Wilkins of the Lafayette Journal & Courier and had to do with a road project in West Lafayette to reconstruct Happy Hollow Road. (Disclosure: this is a road I drive nearly every day to work). The reconstruction was scheduled to begin today but the Indiana Department of Transportation stopped the project because it reportedly ran out of money for Fiscal Year 2014. According to the City Engineer, INDOT was supposed to have obligated FY2014 funds for the Happy Hollow project.
INDOT has apparently said that the funds were obligated but “the purchase order was not written” and funding was withheld. “INDOT has said once they see a plan for the balances, they’ll release the money.”
The money at issue here seems to be federal road funds that are overseen by the State. So I’m not sure that this money would play into the State surplus claims one way or the other. But, I guess I was struck by two stories in the same day that had the State blaming a failure to release funds on the intended recipient’s alleged failure to submit paperwork.