As Indiana closes the books on fiscal year 2015, Hoosiers have good reason to be proud of our state’s fiscal prudence and stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
The General Assembly has successfully funded top priorities including education and infrastructure, while living within our means. By holding the line on spending, our state’s books are balanced and taxpayers are protected in the event of a future economic downturn.
Indiana closed out the 2015 fiscal year on June 30 with a budget surplus of $210 million, which contributed to our $2.14 billion overall reserve amount – the second-highest level in state history.
In conjunction with these large savings, Hoosiers in recent years have benefited from $200 million in tax relief, more than $400 million in infrastructure investments and an increase of $383 million in education funding. Looking ahead, the new state budget also provides an additional increase of $474 million for K-12 schools over the next two years.
Some are calling for Indiana to spend our reserves now on various public programs and initiatives. But recent history shows that emptying our reserve funds is not a responsible approach.
The Great Recession is not far behind us. This global economic event in 2008 took a great toll on Hoosier families. As our global and local economies slowed, so did job growth and tax revenue. Many workers were laid off and turned to government assistance for help, ballooning state expenditures. Healthy reserves insulate all Hoosiers from tax increases and cuts to critical services in difficult economic times like these.
Furthermore, our sound fiscal health ensures that local governments borrow at the lowest interest rates possible. Indiana is one of only 11 states to maintain a “AAA” credit rating with all three major credit rating agencies. This saves millions of taxpayer dollars and facilitates the ability of cities, towns and counties to implement critical capital improvements.
Economic policies supported by the legislature are also resulting in job growth and employer expansions. According to the most recent report released in June, Indiana’s unemployment rate has dipped to 4.9 percent. This is the first time since 2008 that the rate has been below 5 percent. Unemployment insurance claims in Indiana have also declined to a 16-year low.
Our economic outlook is positive, and the General Assembly will continue supporting policies that help the economy, workforce and employers.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and ideas concerning these and other topics. My office can be reached at 800-382-9467 or by email at Senator.Long@iga.in.gov.
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