Indiana finishes the fiscal year with enough surplus tax revenue to raise the state reserve to $1.94 billion
By Josh Altic
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana: Over the last fiscal year, ending on June 30, a surprisingly large structural surplus of $483 million was seen in Indiana, $93 million more than had been predicted. This boost allowed the cash reserve of the state to grow to $1.94 billion. Governor Pence announced that this surplus will allow the spending of $66 million to pay off bonds from the Miami Correctional Facility, saving taxpayers $27 million in the long run. This also reportedly gives hope for an "automatic taxpayer refund" next year if the surplus revenue is just a little higher. In light of this extra money, Pence said, "Indiana is strong and growing stronger, and the closeout report confirms the balanced approach that we took in the enacted budget."
Indiana Democrats, however, disagree about Pence's bright outlook for Indiana and the effectiveness of last years budget. Many complained that the modest budget may give Indiana a revenue surplus at the end of the year but that many hoosiers are still in need. They argue that more should be spent on education funding and Medicaid expansion. In this vein House Minority Leader Scott Pelath said, “The leaders of our state worship these surplus numbers like they are ends in and of themselves. The fact is that these numbers only matter to the extent that our people are prospering. In that context, these numbers mean nothing. Our unemployment rate still remains around 8 percent. Families still are struggling to keep their heads above water. Our local schools still must grapple with doing more with less. Thanks to the stubbornness of our leadership, too many families still must rely upon the emergency room as their only health care option.”
Pence responded by arguing that a healthy reserve is critical to the economic well-being of Indiana as companies see the good condition of the state's finances as reassuring, making a healthy balanced budget with money saved up a motivator for companies to locate in Indiana. He said, "It is a lead selling point for the state of Indiana. It is an asset to all of our businesses and it is directly related to job creation.