Democrats hasty to spend state’s reserves

(Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel

Because Gov. Mike Pence made the prudent fiscal decision of asking state agencies to hold back 4.5 percent of their budgets, Indiana has ended fiscal year 2015 in superb financial shape.

The state has a $210 million surplus and $2.14 billion in reserves, the second-largest amount in state history.

Because of that achievement, Indiana is one of only 11 states in the nation that still has a triple-A credit rating, which helps keep the cost of borrowing money low, saving taxpayers money.

This is very good news for all Hoosiers, but one group is upset. Unspent money is an affront to Democratic sensibilities, so naturally they want to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

“The fact is, by socking away more than necessary and forcing agencies to pre-emptively revert, we’re shorting taxpayers and cutting corners on vital services,” said Indiana Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson. “A nominally larger balance statement may look good in a press release, but it’s not filling potholes, rebuilding local roads and bridges or protecting children.”

State Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, said that caution carries a cost. “With an extra $12 million or so, we could add preschool programs for five or six more counties,” he said. “Throw in an extra $80 million and we could double the amount of money that local units of government can use to fill potholes and fix a few streets.”

Ah, potholes and “the children.” They certainly have their talking points down.

Certainly good things could be done with that money. That’s not the point.

Government can always do more, but whether it should is always a relevant question. Trying to find enough of them to match the money you have on hand is as shortsighted as being miserly.

As we have said before, the state is in good enough shape that it can start thinking about loosening the purse strings a little. But it doesn’t have to be in a big hurry to do it.

So we’ll suffer through our government helping us 4.5 percent less for a while longer. The state has money left over and a nice savings account. We are equipped for emergencies, and we have the flexibility to dream big when the next opportunity comes along.

We should all be able to manage our money and budgets that well.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to awoods@tribtown.com.