I am getting mixed messages out of Indianapolis with respect to the state’s budget outlook. Last week, there was happy news from the Governor about a budget surplus and a $110 per taxpayer refund. Today, Tom LoBianco, writing for the Associated Press, has an article entitled Capitol Crossroads: Grim budget picture shapes up for Indiana lawmakers.
Last week, because the state’s budget surplus exceeded 10% of its budget, taxpayers get a hundred bucks. This week, Speaker Bosma is quoted as saying “the fiscal fog is thick,” because state tax collections are stagnant and because gambling revenues are falling as adjacent states get into the gambling game, because of cuts to corporate income taxes, because of a phase out of the state inheritance tax, and because of Gov-elect Pence’s call for a 10% cut in personal income taxes.
As a result:
Even though lawmakers and governor-elect Mike Pence come into 2013 with a state flush with cash reserves worth an estimated $2 billion, they’re facing programs starved for support — including the Department of Child Services, which told lawmakers it has trouble holding caseworkers because of low salaries — and a continued economic drag.
When you get down to it, lawmakers who want to reduce government services probably ought to be more forthright and replace the explanation of “we can’t afford it” with the more accurate explanation of “we don’t want to.”