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UPDATE: Indiana surplus tops $2B after spending cuts

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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 Revenue from the inheritance tax, which was repealed on Jan. 1, 2013, fell by $77.8 million, and individual income tax revenue fell by $78.7 million, the figures showed.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.

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  • Surplus Doesn't Mean Much In Scheme of Things
    Alleged "fiscal envy" about Indiana's surplus is empty hype. Who says that any other state is envious of Indiana? And what good does a budget surplus do when education funding has been reduced, roads are in disrepair, city and township funding is heading south due to business tax cuts, average income is falling compared to other states, our unemployment insurance fund debt to the federal government is approaching $1 billion (about one-half of the surplus), overall Hoosier health is near the bottom when compared to other states, more McJobs are being realized, and thousands of Hoosiers remain without health care coverage. The only real utility in the surplus is that it gives the governor some superficial bragging opportunity.
  • Obama ' s fault
    Pres. I did what he wanted for his first 2 years with demo in congress. So this His economy. It hasn't worked and now libs like yourself want the Republican to bail him out with more dumb economic ideas from the idiots in the white house
    • So...
      we have 2 billion in the coffers while those that are uneducated because of spending cuts are dumber and madder because we didn't prepare them for the future...so our crime increases? tell me how this is better for our state? i'll wait...
    • What good is "fiscal envy"
      Yeah, we are the "fiscal envy", even as crime sky rockets with meth and opioid (heroin) epidemics, our schools go underfunded, our roads and infrastructure crumbles in front of our eyes, our environmental pollution becomes the worst in the nation, and anyone that can is leaving the state for higher pay elsewhere. We are becoming a 3rd world State and none of our current elected State leaders are willing or able to buck the trend.
    • Novel idea...
      Currently our federal unemployment loan balance sits just over $900-mil. Every employer in the State of Indiana pays a higher unemployment insurance rate (an extra ~1%), due to our 4 year delinquency on this loan. Just a thought, repay your debts and see what happens when employers have extra money that they no longer have to send to the Feds.
    • Don't spend it....
      You never know what is around the corner and may have to fund the unemployment fund again! That way we don't have to borrow from Washington again!
    • Penceonomics
      the surplus is a complete hoax. Cutting spending on education, at all levels, through catholic school voucher bailouts, does a complete disservice to the 2 million kids in public schools statewide. Refunding dept of child services money to the general fund did a complete disservice to the courageous families who adopted special needs kids. Wasting state tax money on frivolous litigation by the AG, whose litigation on a host of issues (same sex marriage, planned parenthood funding, etc.) is devoid of any credible constitutional jurisprudence, is very costly political gamesmanship. Gutting funding for higher ed will have the same effect on Indiana's world-class universities (Purdue and IU) that gutting the funding for the IU law school did three decades ago, when IU fell from top ten status to not even within the top 50. Can't fix stupid.
    • Sad
      I'd encourage people take a course on funding for higher education. The percentage of international students at public universities is relatively low. Plus, they receive no tuition discount which makes them a necessary revenue stream. The state's funding for higher education is troubling. Take for instance, the state's mandate for IU to increase the med school's enrollment while reducing funding. As the nation's largest medical school, we have one of most poorly funded schools as it relates to state funding.
    • What a Dope
      Comments like these confirm that Indiana aspires to be the West Virginia of the Midwest!
    • cockadoodee!
      LOL! Who mentioned Obama's "failed" economic policies? That statement shows you're really not aware of much! NOTHING has come out of Congress and it's NOT Mr Obama's fault! So even in the face of idiotic republican's who believe that going against a president on EVERYTHING is a good thing for the country, we are doing better than when he came into office, think of how much better we would be IF McConnell hadn't made his infamous statement in 2009! We may have a surplus (Which means nothing) so tell me are republican's who are so dead set against The BIG BAD GOVERNMENT and "handouts", going to use the money to fix OUR OWN roads? I doubt it! Just a dog and pony show, it means nothing, where exactly will the $$$ go to? Our downtown streets are an embarrassment and need attention like a decade ago!
      • Truthfully
        Barack Obama's failed economic policy??? Really if our president had any help from the so called moral majority we would be in a far better position to deal with our economic disaster... There isn't a Republican elected worth there weight in words they preached... Oh I'm not saying that Democrats are any better, but when the House was led by Democrats everyone had a voice and now only the rich do... That is not America it is a NAZI version and if that is what you seek you now have it...
      • Help the middle class
        The proper thing to do is to return this money to the working middle class, which is suffering the most under Barack Obama's failed economic policy. Pence isn't my favorite politician, but at least he's not running the state into the ground like the Democrats of Detroit and Illinois.
        • looky looky everyone!
          Let education and needy families suffer so Magic Mike can look like a good candidate to take over America, after the Muslim socialist guy we have now. Never mind that Indiana is touted as the most backwards of all the mid western states because of our low income, low college grad level, horrible air quality and our political innovation from the 50s, just to scratch the surface. don't get me wrong, I love Indiana, it's just the arrogance of the status quo I can't deal with.
        • brilliant
          These comments are brilliant. So is our under-spending state legislature, as is our governor. Looking forward to the Stone Age. Great!
        • congrats
          and now let's work on getting us up from the bottom of every meaningful list, like quality of life, level of education, median income, general health...
        • "You ain't seen ...
          Just wait until they've had 6 months or a year of the higher gas taxes. The state surplus will be well over $2B. Bayh for governor and Hogsett for Indy mayor and my prayers will be answered.
        • they should reduce state funding for state colleges and universities to zero
          Given that state universities are favoring foreign students over qualified Indiana resident students, their funding should be zero from the state.

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