Governor Mike Pence Thursday proudly touted Indiana’s continued fiscal strength as he closed the books on the fiscal year. But that strength has Democrats wondering why Pence continues to order state agencies to cut their budgets.
Indiana finished its 2015 fiscal year with a $210 million surplus, helping increase budget reserves to more than $2.1 billion. But state agencies reverted $133 million, meaning if the governor hadn’t required agencies to send any money back, the state still would’ve had a surplus.
Pence says those reversion decisions were made months ago, when revenues were struggling. And he doesn’t think the state needs to give the money back to its agencies.
“We believe our agencies are funded at appropriate levels in the biennial budget that we just signed into law,” Pence said. “In fact, a number of critical agencies received significant increases in funding.”
The governor will require most agencies to revert three percent of their budgets going forward, leaving many to question why, when the state is reporting a near-record reserve level.
Pence’s response is simple: “Because I’m a conservative.”
“I think it’s altogether appropriate to be proactive and I think that’s, in part, responsible for why we’re in such a strong fiscal position that we are today,” Pence added.
House Democrats say the governor is hoarding money at the expense of funding critical needs such as preschool and local road repairs.