Governor and Recession and Special Session and Legislature and State Government and State Budget and Economy and Executives and Mickey Maurer and Politics and Government & Economic Development and Government Reform

Fiscal crisis calls for drastic measure

May 18, 2009

A modest proposal: for preventing fiscal disaster and addressing other challenges of the Great State of Indiana.

Indiana is at a crossroads.

The state Legislature elected by the people and tasked to enact a budget failed in its sovereign duty. Spending issues and disputes over the impact of collections on the current surplus destroyed any chance of progress for this august body. According to Gov. Mitch Daniels, the budget bill the General Assembly voted on but did not pass would have consumed the state's reserves at the end of two years and left a billion-dollar shortfall. House Democrats and Senate Republicans apparently disagreed. The toxic economic climate has exacerbated the gulfs among constituencies responsible for keeping the lights on after June 30, the day the current budget expires.

Daniels will call the Legislature into special session to pass an acceptable budget, but some legislators think a budget that would satisfy the governor cannot be crafted by the contentious partisans in this developing fiasco.

"I think it only gets worse," said Senate Appropriations Chairman Luke Kenley, R- Noblesville. Without a budget, legislators will return to their districts amid cries of ridicule and scorn, but if the governor is forced to sign into law a spendthrift budget, financial ruin will await.

In this special session, the Legislature has but one recourse. Indiana must secede from the union.

From the mighty Ohio River to the shores of Lake Michigan, Indiana can forge a new nation, a nation of equal rights for all--except, of course, gays who will not be allowed to marry nor will be permitted other rights and privileges granted to true citizens.

The current system of government is not working, so this new nation will be led by benevolent dictator Pat Bauer, the father of our country. He is an experienced leader who has wielded dictatorial power over his legion of lemmings for what seems like centuries. In a dictatorship, there is no need to reform and streamline government. In fact, we will add layers of patronage jobs subservient to the regime.

We will raise money by promoting our casinos as providing opportunities to blow secondhand smoke in the face of the lady playing the adjoining slot machine. To promote this industry, our coins will bear the inscription "gamble and die."

There will be no reason to balance a budget or preserve our surplus to protect citizens from rising taxes. We can spend without regard to tomorrow because, as a new nation, we will be eligible for foreign aid from the United States of America, a country that can relate to bloated government and deficit spending.

Our lawmakers need not waste time on dialogue and debate. Independent thought has been a pretense in the Legislature for a time anyway. Without the need for legitimate discourse, our Legislature would be free to concentrate on more important issues like the resolution recently passed by the Senate recommending that sugar cream be designated as the state's official pie.

Therefore, let no man talk to me of other expedients: of a balanced budget that would not obliterate our protected reserves inevitably leading to a tax increase; of government reform as recommended by the Shepherd/ Kernan Report; of respect for human dignity regardless of sexual orientation; of rights to a smoke-free workplace whether dealing in potato chips or poker chips; and of putting a spirit of independence, industry, skill and civility into our legislators who today, if left to their own devices, would doom the state and its loyal citizens to eternal ruin.

Therefore, I repeat, let no man talk to me of these and like expedients, 'til he hath at least some glimpse of hope that there will ever be a hardy and sincere attempt to put them into practice.

With apologies to Jonathan Swift.
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Maurer is a shareholder in IBJ Media Corp., which owns Indianapolis Business Journal. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to mmaurer@ibj.com.

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