Indiana Lands Big Budget Surplus, But Democrats Cry Foul
Despite tax revenues that struggled for much of the fiscal year, Indiana closes its book with a surplus of more than $100 million and reserves topping $2 billion. But Democrats say the state is hoarding money to make its bottom line look good.
Going into the final month of the fiscal year, Indiana was about $50 million short of expectations. But a strong June helped the state end the year about $13 million above projected levels. Still, Indiana brought in nearly $60 million less this year than last year.
Office of Management and Budget Director Chris Atkins says a $100 million surplus was built into the budget and it’s important for the state to hit that mark.
“The closer you get to zero, you don’t leave yourselves any flexibility if the situation gets any worse than that and then you do have to start cutting into your reserves in order to balance your budget,” Atkins said. “So that’s why we want to maintain that cushion.”
Achieving that surplus level was accomplished by cutting the budgets of state agencies and universities.
Indiana’s higher ed institutions reverted $33 million back to the General Fund, more than $27 million more than they were asked to last year.
Indianapolis Representative Greg Porter, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means committee, says it’s disgraceful to be proud or delighted with the surplus and reserve numbers announced Monday. He says Republican “bloodlust” to cut taxes contributed to declining revenues and will continue to hurt the state in the future.