Spending cuts by most state agencies and reduced funding for higher education allowed Indiana's cash reserves to grow slightly to more than $2 billion last year despite lower state revenue, Auditor Suzanne Crouch said Monday.
State government ended its fiscal year June 30 with a $106.8 million operating surplus despite a $59.8 million drop in tax revenue over the 12-month period, figures released by Crouch showed.
Riverboat gambling tax revenue declined by $85.3 million, to $363.3 million, a 19-percent drop, in large part due to new competition from neighboring states. Revenue from the inheritance tax, which was repealed on Jan. 1, 2013, fell by $77.8 million, and individual income tax revenue fell by $78.7 million, the figures showed.
"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," Crouch, a Republican, said in a new release. "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."
Gov. Mike Pence ordered spending cuts last year, and the more than $300 million in cuts included nearly $34 million from public universities, $27.8 million from the Family and Social Services Administration and $27.8 from state prisons.
Democrats have criticized the spending cuts and said the growth in the state's reserves was nothing to celebrate. Rep. Greg Porter of Indianapolis, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said the report proved "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," Porter said.
Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane of Anderson said college is less affordable than ever for working families, Indiana's infant mortality rate is the second worst in the country, many public schools struggle to pay for basic services such as transportation and a program that allows Indiana residents to receive essential health services at home has a waiting list of more than 3,000 people.
"At a time when we should be investing in Indiana to improve the abysmal state of Hoosier's incomes and health, we are hoarding hard-earned taxpayer's dollars instead of returning it to them with meaningful programs and services," Lanane said.