State leaders say they’re cautiously optimistic about Indiana’s fiscal future after a new revenue forecast unveiled Thursday predicts two to three percent growth in the next budget cycle.
That growth would mean more than $800 million in new money over the next two years.
But Senate Appropriations Chair Luke Kenley says even that kind of increase shouldn’t start a spending frenzy. He notes that even before the forecast he’s been receiving budget requests that total almost double that amount.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s announcement this week that he is actively exploring a presidential bid is causing ripple effects as the 2016 electoral picture begins taking shape. And an Indiana political strategist has a message for potential presidential candidates: if you’re going to run, run.
Pete Seat is a former spokesman for the Indiana Republican Party, Senator Dan Coats and the Bush administration.
The Indiana Department of Transportation says the cost of maintaining Indiana’s roads is substantial and growing, while the revenue streams used to pay for those repairs are decreasing. Yet, the legislature will likely be unable address that issue in its next budget.
An attorney for former Indiana Secretary of State Charlie White says state law was misapplied when White was convicted in 2012 of six criminal counts stemming from voter fraud. Arguments in the case took place Tuesday before the state Court of Appeals.
White’s appeal included several arguments – the jury wasn’t properly instructed, selective prosecution, his attorney at the time – Carl Brizzi – was ineffective.
But when pressed by the Appeals Court judges for the strongest argument, White’s current attorney Andrea Ciobanu says it’s misapplication of the law.
U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly says legislation nearing passage will be an enormous help in preventing suicide among military service members. More than 3,000 active-duty soldiers have taken their lives since 2001.
The rate of suicide among National Guard members has grown more than any other military branch in the last five years. That’s why legislation Donnelly authored requires annual mental health assessments for all servicemembers – including members of the National Guard and reservists.
American Cancer Society officials say Indiana lawmakers should explore ways to help incentivize Hoosiers to quit smoking, a position reflected in the group’s 2015 legislative priorities.
Apart from health advocacy organizations like the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, groups such as the Indiana Chamber of Commerce are part of the fight to reduce smoking. For two years, one of the group’s legislative priorities has been eliminating the Smoker’s Bill of Rights.
Environmental groups say they’re concerned the legislature will create a watered-down statewide energy efficiency program to replace the program eliminated earlier this year.
Lawmakers voted last session to eliminate the program known as Energizing Indiana amid concerns about its rising costs. Governor Mike Pence pledged to bring legislators a new energy efficiency proposal in the upcoming session, one crafted by the Utility Regulatory Commission.
Election Day was November 4th and the members of the Indiana General Assembly got together on November 18th for Organization Day. Organization Day is the third Tuesday following the first Monday in November. This is the day that legislators take their oaths of office and in the days after that, the leaders announce committee assignments and who would be chairing those committees.
As Hoosiers mourn the loss of Indianapolis-native Abdul-Rahman Kassig, the United States is considering changes to its hostage policy, and a former Indiana congressman says that could include strengthened military action to rescue Americans being held captive.
The White House revealed this week President Obama called for a full review of the country’s current hostage policy earlier this year.
The administration says that review will not include changes to the longstanding U.S. policy of not paying ransom.
Legislative leaders say Hoosiers shouldn’t expect more big tax cuts or changes in the upcoming session.
In the last 15 years, the General Assembly has enacted major cuts to property taxes, individual and corporate income taxes, financial institutions taxes, business personal property taxes, and eliminated the inheritance tax.
Senate President Pro Tem David Long, echoing the comments of all four legislative caucus leaders, says it’s time to take a breath.