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Indiana Closes Out Fiscal Year With A Surplus

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Brandon Smith
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indianapublicmedia.org/news

Governor Mike Pence Thursday proudly touted Indiana’s continued fiscal strength as he closed the books on the fiscal year.  But Democrats are wondering why Pence continues to order state agencies to cut their budgets.

Indiana finished its 2015 fiscal year with a $210-million surplus, helping increase budget reserves to more than $2.1-billion.  But state agencies reverted $133-million…meaning if the governor hadn’t required agencies to send any money back, the state still would’ve had a surplus.  Pence says those reversion decisions were made months ago, when revenues were struggling.  And he doesn’t think the state needs to give the money back to its agencies.

“We believe our agencies are funded at appropriate levels in the biennial budget that we just signed into law," says Pence. "In fact, a number of critical agencies received significant increases in funding.”

The governor will require most agencies to revert three percent of their budgets going forward…leaving many to question why, when the state is reporting a near-record reserve level.  Pence’s response is simple: “Because I’m a conservative.”

“I think it’s altogether appropriate to be proactive and I think that’s, in part, responsible for why we’re in such a strong fiscal position that we are today,” he says.

House Democrats say the governor is hoarding money at the expense of funding critical needs such as preschool and local road repairs.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.