IBJNews

Indiana Senate's top Democrat demands budget-cut data

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The top Democrat in the Indiana Senate demanded Tuesday that Gov. Mitch Daniels release a list of exactly what programs have seen less money because of state budget cuts.

Minority Leader Vi Simpson, D-Bloomington, said the Republican governor's budget director told her that a comprehensive list of executive branch budget reductions wasn't available. She said that's unacceptable.

"Either the office is totally incompetent or they're keeping secrets," Simpson said. "The public has a right to this information."

Daniels has cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state's budget since it was enacted last June.

In April, the governor's budget director sent a memo to all state agencies directing them to reduce 2011 fiscal-year spending by another 5 percent. That comes on top of a 10-percent spending cut ordered a few months ago.

Simpson said she wants to know exactly where those cuts are being made. So she's sending a letter to individual state agencies asking them for a list of withheld distributions for fiscal year 2010 and 2011, along with information about layoffs and the estimated impacts of cuts on people served by state programs.

Simpson said she's frustrated with the "culture of secrecy" of the Daniels administration and will introduce legislation next year that will make the state budget more accessible to the public. Her proposals could include plans to put budget information online, which is done in several states, and require the governor to inform lawmakers about budget cuts or other actions taken to balance the state's books.

Daniels spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said the governor has already publicly outlined several cuts, including pay freezes for workers, strategic hiring and fleet reductions. As of April, state revenues were $950 million below budget, she said.

"Spending reductions are never easy, but Hoosiers expect us to be good stewards of their dollars, and that is what we are doing," Jankowski said. "We'll continue to manage within our means and provide essential services without raising taxes."

Simpson first asked the governor for information about cuts in January, after she said she was unable to get the data from the state budget agency. State Budget Director Chris Ruhl wrote a letter to Simpson later that month saying the administration set overall budget reduction targets but left the decisions up to agencies.

"We have allowed the management teams of our 70-plus agencies the discretion and flexibility to implement their own cost savings measures to meet the very aggressive targets that have been centrally set," Ruhl wrote.

Ruhl said it was a "very fluid process" and noted that declining tax collections have meant difficult decisions for the state, but he said he could get Simpson information on specific budget decisions made at the agency level.

But when Simpson hadn't received any information by May, she again asked Ruhl for a comprehensive list of cuts and other information.

"It is disturbing that budget cutting information has not been made available to members of the General Assembly," she said. "I have been involved in state budget matters for many years, and I can assure you there has never been poorer communication between the state budget agency and the General Assembly."

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am so impressed that the smoking ban FAILED in Kokomo! I might just move to your Awesome city!

  2. way to much breweries being built in indianapolis. its going to be saturated market, if not already. when is enough, enough??

  3. This house is a reminder of Hamilton County history. Its position near the interstate is significant to remember what Hamilton County was before the SUPERBROKERs, Navients, commercial parks, sprawling vinyl villages, and acres of concrete retail showed up. What's truly Wasteful is not reusing a structure that could still be useful. History isn't confined to parks and books.

  4. To compare Connor Prairie or the Zoo to a random old house is a big ridiculous. If it were any where near the level of significance there wouldn't be a major funding gap. Put a big billboard on I-69 funded by the tourism board for people to come visit this old house, and I doubt there would be any takers, since other than age there is no significance whatsoever. Clearly the tax payers of Fishers don't have a significant interest in this project, so PLEASE DON'T USE OUR VALUABLE MONEY. Government money is finite and needs to be utilized for the most efficient and productive purposes. This is far from that.

  5. I only tried it 2x and didn't think much of it both times. With the new apts plus a couple other of new developments on Guilford, I am surprised it didn't get more business. Plus you have a couple of subdivisions across the street from it. I hope Upland can keep it going. Good beer and food plus a neat environment and outdoor seating.

ADVERTISEMENT