Indiana’s Reserve Funds Top $2B
By Mike Perleberg
Indiana Auditor Suzanne Crouch detailed the end of the 2014 Fiscal Year during a press conference in Indianapolis Monday. Photo provided.
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – The cash reserves for Indiana’s state government have grown to more than $2 billion.
Republican state Auditor Suzanne Crouch released figures Monday showing that state government ended the 2014 fiscal year on June 30 with a $106.8 million operating surplus. That was despite a nearly $60 million drop in tax revenues.
Crouch’s Closeout Report shows that the state’s expenditures grew 2.1 percent from the previous fiscal year. That’s lower than the 10-year average level of inflation at 2.45 percent.
“My job as Indiana’s Chief Financial Officer is to account for and report on our state’s income and expenditures. Every day, my office contributes to Indiana’s financial stability by assuring payments can and should be made. We ensure those payments are timely, transparent and accurate to confirm that every tax dollar goes to its intended purpose,” said Crouch. “The trust a taxpayer grants to an elected official is a sacred trust. Every tax dollar should be spent with serious consideration and respect for the individuals who earned those dollars. Each tax dollar has a name and a face attached to it.”
“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,” she added. “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.”
Crouch said $65.4 million was saved by using excess reserves to pay down debt. Indiana is one of six states reported by Standard and Poor’s prepared to weather the next recession, she noted.
The reserves grew to $2 billion after spending cuts by most state agencies and a reduction in state funding for higher education ordered last year by Republican Governor Mike Pence. The state’s colleges and universities reverted $33 million to the general fund in 2013, according to Indiana Public Media. The Associated Press reported that $27.8 million each was cut from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration and state prisons.
Indiana Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) says the governor continues to order cuts from already lean state programs without regard for how the cuts will affect citizens.
“Let’s not confuse the state of Indiana’s books with the state of the average Hoosier. It’s become abundantly clear that the state’s fiscal health has little to do with improving the well-being of the average Hoosier,” said Lanane.
Lanane also wondered what might be Pence’s plan for the surplus money.
“More tax breaks for businesses? Another $50 taxpayer refund? The governor has failed to provide a clear vision for how this surplus can benefit all Hoosiers,” he said.