State Touts Budget Surplus
State Auditor Suzanne Crouch says ending Fiscal Year 2014 with a $2 billion surplus makes Indiana the “fiscal envy of the nation.” State Representative Greg Porter (D-96) says the praise is a “fool's errand” because he believes the state is not spending enough in areas including education. July 14, 2014
STATEHOUSE – State Auditor Suzanne Crouch is pleased to announce that Indiana's fiscal condition following the close of Fiscal Year 2014 (FY 2014) remains strong. She released the state's 2014 Closeout Report today, which shows that Indiana ended FY 2014 with a $2 billion reserve and a structural surplus of $106.8 million.
“My job as Indiana's Chief Financial Officer is to account for and report on our state's income and expenditures. Every day, my office contributes to Indiana's financial stability by assuring payments can and should be made. We ensure those payments are timely, transparent and accurate to confirm that every tax dollar goes to its intended purpose,” said Auditor Crouch.
“The trust a taxpayer grants to an elected official is a sacred trust. Every tax dollar should be spent with serious consideration and respect for the individuals who earned those dollars. Each tax dollar has a name and a face attached to it.”
The Closeout Report also shows that expenditures grew 2.1 percent from 2013, which is less than the 10- year average level of inflation at 2.45 percent.
“At the end of the fiscal year, we do not want to have to go back to Hoosier taxpayers and raise taxes because we need more money,” Auditor Crouch said. “By living within our means, keeping prudent reserves and identifying areas of potential growth, we can continue to make Indiana the fiscal envy of the nation.”
The FY 2014 Closeout Report is available at http://www.in.gov/sba/2362.htm.
Appointed in 2014 as Indiana's 56th State Auditor, Suzanne Crouch serves as the state's chief financial officer. Prior to becoming State Auditor, Crouch served eight years as the state representative for House District 78 in Evansville.
Source: The Office of Indiana Auditor Suzanne Crouch
INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), ranking Democrat on the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, issued the following statement upon the announcement of the state budget close-out earlier today:
“These yearly events take on a certain sameness. Those who present the figures focus solely on the big numbers at the end in the hope that having something like $2 billion in the bank proves some measure of fiscal competence and expertise in managing government.
“It does prove that we know how to horde money in the bank. What it doesn't prove is that we know how to run state government in a way that benefits the people of Indiana. It is a fool’s errand to simply look at a bottom line of around $2 billion without understanding how they got to that number and what is being lost by their devotion to a big number at the expense of all else.
“For instance, it does not take into account the ongoing failure of this administration to take advantage of reserves like the Next Generation Trust Fund and the Indiana Check-up Trust Fund. The state continues to horde these dollars rather than use them to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and provide health care for our neediest residents.
“It doesn't take into account the ongoing bill our state must send to the federal government to repay loans that shored up our unemployment insurance trust fund. Or the millions we lost through the inept management of tobacco settlement dollars by the Indiana Attorney General’s office. Or the millions we stand to lose from the IBM privatization fiasco, just to mention one of a series of lawsuits pending against the state.
“But let us examine what is being ignored as the state continues its focus on a big dollar figure at the expense of its real world consequences:
“Our state’s CHOICE program has a waiting list of more than 3,000 people that never seems to change.
“A $4 million Early Learning Challenge Grant appropriation lies dormant. For those who don’t remember it, this was the funding approved in the 2013 session that was supposed to get us on the path to starting pre-K programs in Indiana. In the haze surrounding the approval of a pre-k program in 2014—this one glowingly lauded by the governor—people might have forgotten what we did one year earlier. I suppose it doesn't matter, since neither program will be in effect this year.
“There is the continuing shame over the dwindling resources we are providing for our public schools: less than 2 percent in 2014 and less than 1 percent in 2015. And don’t forget that we have yet to make up the $300 million that our previous governor removed from tuition support in 2010.
“The state of higher education isn't much better. Remember that funds for those schools were cut 2 percent by the State Budget Agency not long after the current biennial state budget went into effect. Over the last three budget cycles, state aid per student has plummeted from $5,132 in 2009 to $4,442 in 2013—a drop of more than 13 percent. Many universities have responded by cutting programs and raising tuition, which places even greater burdens on students. This is not how we improve the skills sets for younger Hoosiers.
“Let me mention one more. Our state's response to an infant mortality rate that is one of the worst in the country? Studies that tell us what we already know, but no funding to do anything about it.
“Sadly, this will not get any better, because the true, full impact of the Republican bloodlust to cut taxes for the very wealthy is coming in the next few years. The loss of inheritance taxes, corporate income taxes and personal income taxes will be felt well beyond the impact of today's announcement. It will heighten the many problems I have just mentioned, and I strongly suspect the results of the governor’s recent tax conference will only make things worse.
“There is nothing to celebrate today. To be proud or delighted about these numbers is disgraceful.”