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State Auditor Tim Berry recently revealed the state’s spending limit was better than everyone in Indianapolis thought it would be. According to figures released by Berry Thursday, the state finished out the budget year – which ended June 30 – with a surplus of approximately $1.2 billion.
He went on to point out the surplus can be credited to the mixture of improved income-tax collections and more than $1 billion in budget cuts.
So, news of a surplus could mean some funding will go back into the state, right?
Don’t hold your breath.
Gov. Mitch Daniels has already put his foot down to let Hoosiers know that instead of restoring some of the cuts he and lawmakers have made in recent years, that $1 billion-plus is going into savings.
While it is good to save money for a time down the road when it might be needed, we don’t think it’s a stretch to consider giving some of it back to programs that have suffered heavily during this economic downturn.
One big area in need of some funds Perry County residents will probably agree with us on is education. Deep budget cuts have been seen all across the board for schools, and locally our three school corporations have done commendable jobs of making needed cuts without hurting the students. But more cuts will likely have to be made and only time will tell how schools across the state will fare.
Even House Minority Leader Pat Bauer stated he felt the budget surplus should be used to restore cuts to education and children’s health care.
As our county continues to feel the pressure of shrinking state funding – the recent merger of the two county libraries and the announcement of the closing of Bright Beginnings day care are just a couple of the recent examples – we think it would lift spirits a little to see some of that money put back into the education system.
It doesn’t have to be all of it. It doesn’t even have to be a majority of it. But seeing some of the money returned to schools shows a larger interest in making sure that our children get the best educations they can during a time where money seems to be scarce.
Is saving for the future of the state important? Of course it is. We understand the future can’t be predicted and the governor and lawmakers want to make sure the state is prepared. But we can’t forget about the hard times right now.
We would hope that Daniels and other Indiana lawmakers reconsider the decision to save all the money. There are areas of the state that could use the funding, even if it’s only just a little.
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