Lawmakers Face Tight Budget After New Revenue Forecast

Dec 17, 2018

A new state revenue forecast gave lawmakers good news and bad news Monday. The good news: Indiana will have more than $800 million in new money for the next state budget.

The bad news: that’s not enough to pay for what state officials want.

The revenue forecast is a big piece of the puzzle as lawmakers and the Holcomb administration prepare to write a new, two-year state budget in the upcoming 2019 legislative session.

If you combine the Department of Child Services’ budget request ($286 million more a year) with predicted new Medicaid funding ($244 million more over the biennium), state lawmakers will have just $35 million in new revenue left over in the first year of the new budget to divvy up between all other requests for spending increases.

In the second year of the new budget, DCS and Medicaid would take up $23 million more than what the state is projected to add in new money.

Senate budget architect Sen. Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen) says not everybody will get what they want.

“We need to meet with DCS and figure out a way to lower that number and be a little more efficient,” Mishlery says.

At risk for the chopping block: any increase in education funding – which, as Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) points out, is supposed to help deliver teacher pay raises.

“I don’t buy that there’s no money for teacher pay," Tallian says. "I don’t buy it.”

Tallian says Gov. Eric Holcomb, for instance, has $1 billion over the next two years from a renegotiated Toll Road deal that she thinks should go into the budget.

Holcomb has said he plans to spend that one-time money on roads, trails, rural broadband and direct international flights.