STIMULUS SPENDING SHOULD BE VIEWED AS TEMPORARY, TARGETED
One-time monies should be invested in one-time expenses…that create jobs
by State Sen. David Long
At best, that’s how money from the recent federal stimulus spending bill should be cautiously viewed by Hoosier taxpayers and policymakers.
Congress worked at near-record speed to introduce, pass and hammer out differences between U.S. House and Senate versions of the $790 billion package which will ship our Hoosier state an estimated $4.3 billion for use by schools and universities, state and local governments.
Details of the federal stimulus bill are still unfolding, but are coming at a good time – the midway point of this year’s Indiana General Assembly, but also in time for state senators to consider stimulus funding during deliberations on the next two-year state budget.
House Bill 1001, the state budget bill, started as required by law in the Democrat-controlled Indiana House of Representatives and recently moved to the Republican-led Senate where funding from the federal stimulus package may be better known, fully considered and thoroughly scrutinized.
Once the dust settles and the details are determined, Indiana lawmakers expect the federal legislation to include pools of money for K-12 education, roads and transportation, housing, energy and the environment – all in the name of job creation. Spending guidelines and deadlines are part of the federal package. State senators are in a better position, timing wise, than our Indiana House counterparts to take all of this into consideration as we re-tool our own state budget involving these same priorities.
State and local leaders should not build the expected billions of dollars into base budgets, which could easily create the need for future tax increases. These are expected to be one-time federal funds and should be spent on one-time investments. Spent properly, these projects can leave our communities and state with valuable assets that benefit Hoosiers for years to come – roads, schools, bridges, flood controls, etc. Clearly, stimulus monies should not stimulate long-term government growth that would result in unsustainable spending or higher taxes. These scenarios would stifle job creation and make our state less attractive to continued business investment and expansion.
State and local leaders must prepare now so stimulus funds may be effectively targeted for their primary purpose – jobs. Maintaining and creating jobs should be everyone’s goal in responding to ever-changing conditions and using these funds to help weather this economic storm.
Compromise stimulus language provides governors with the ultimate responsibility to quickly dispense each state’s share of discretionary funds. However, Gov. Mitch Daniels continues to seek the advice of Indiana legislative leaders. We share his commitment to identifying and prioritizing impactful, cost-efficient uses of whatever federal funds become available. We also stand prepared to do whatever is needed so that shovel-ready capital projects can commence and Hoosiers can be put to work as soon as possible.
Sen. David Long (R-Fort Wayne) is President Pro Tem of the Indiana Senate. He serves District 16, which includes portions of Fort Wayne.
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