Pity the poor state Republicans. They had to be told not to get all excited and begin making plans to spend revenues that came in above forecast. It's tough because on the one hand you have a governor who promised to eliminate the budget by a certain date. On the other, you have little other than tax-and-spend Republicans in the Statehouse. From Mike Smith's AP report, found in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel:
When state tax collections came in far above the April target, Gov. Mitch Daniels made a big deal of it.
He brought state Budget Director Chuck Schalliol to a weekly meeting with reporters and touted the fact that revenue for the month was $206 million more than projected in December.
It's a tough spot for Daniels, who has pledged to eliminate what was a $600 million deficit in early 2005 by the end of this fiscal year on June 30. He said in March that the state likely would be able to afford statewide full-day kindergarten next year. He even hoped it could be implemented by the start of the 2007-2008 school year.
Many Democrats, including state Sen. Vi Simpson of Bloomington, say it's time to get that done. The price tag would be about $140 million a year, according to the Legislative Services Agency.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert Meeks, R-LaGrange, said the state's first obligation should be eliminating the back payments. He said he was open to discussing full-day kindergarten, "but do we do that at the sacrifice of everything else?"
Meeks sent a letter to all Republicans, issuing a cautionary note about spending.
"I think it's way too early to talk about new programs," he said.
But, when the time is right, Republicans will be there to spend, spend, spend. Maybe sometime after June 30, when the Guv is in the clear.
Libertarians in the Statehouse wouldn't need a cautionary letter advising them not to go crazy on the spending.
It's an interesting article in other ways. Check out this item featuring Brian Bosma:
Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said recently that "now that the state has balanced its budget," Indiana was in a position to move forward on new education opportunities. They could include a strong kindergarten program, state-funded textbooks for every child, remediation for struggling students.
It was just shown that the budget is not balanced. Could it be that he doesn't know the difference between red & black? Or, is that as Sen. Dirksen once famously said, "a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money". We're only in the millions on this deficit, so maybe it isn't real money to Bosma yet, or to sadly unnamed State Senators. Again, from Smith:
The December forecast predicted that by the end of the two-year budget cycle in July 2007, revenues would exceed expenditures by $265 million. As fiscal leaders in the Senate note, that's not a lot of money distance between a deficit and a surplus when it comes to a current annual budget of about $12 billion.
This is how they think about your tax dollars. Had enough yet?