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[r23] Friend Report: Balancing the State’s finances
Start Date: 2/19/2013Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 2/19/2013End Time: 11:59 PM
Entry Description
Friend Report: Balancing the State’s finances

This has been a most difficult week for me as my brother, Jim, passed away early Monday morning, February 11.  He was my big brother, my only sibling, and his heroic battle with Lewy body disease, which is similar to Parkinson’s disease, is finally over.  I am very thankful for the kindness and consideration shown to me and my family.  The cards, calls and comments have been overwhelming – many thanks to everyone for their thoughtfulness.  The entire family appreciates your acts of gentleness and compassion.
 
The main story this week in the Legislature was the budget proposed by Chairman Tim Brown and the House Ways and Means Committee.  There are many aspects of the budget, but the main topics for discussion include the restoration of education funding and changes to send more dollars to the Department of Transportation.  In the House proposed budget that Chairman Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) put forth on February 18, K-12 funding will be increased to the largest appropriation in Indiana history.  The budget restores the cuts made in 2009 and adds a substantial amount to account for full-day kindergarten.  There is also an appropriation of $7 million for a pilot program for pre-school education for low-income students.  Education is a priority for this budget and will remain important until the end of negotiations.
 
As legislators listen to constituents and local officials, one of the strident messages heard is that funding for highway maintenance and construction is lacking.  Motor vehicle highway funds have been declining as expenses increased.  A long-time improvement in the funding proposal has been adopted in the House budget.  The funding of the State Police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has been moved from the gas tax to the General Fund, amounting to $140 million for highway funding. All Hoosiers will benefit from these adjustments without paying more at the pump, and state and local officials will have more money to maintain roads and bridges.
 
Our commitment to enacting a budget every two years that is fiscally sound and honestly balanced has positioned Indiana to have the prudent reserves needed to weather a future economic downturn. Even with the additional spending to priorities like infrastructure, education and public safety, the House’s budget allocates $300M to the Tuition Reserve Fund. This fund serves as a safety net for funding our education priorities in case of a slowdown. 
 
Debt would be paid down to defease bonds for the Indiana State Museum and the Forensic Sciences Laboratory, and a structural surplus would be in place for each year of the biennium. A government that lives within its means best serves its people. This budget does that.

The House budget is about fiscal integrity and addressing difficult situations head on. As we move forward through this legislative process, I believe we can all work together and do what is best to serve Hoosiers. 
 
This is your government, stay in touch.
 
More later,
 
Bill Friend

-30-
Contact Information:
Name: Nicholas Goodwin
Phone: 3172329831
Email: ngoodwin@iga.in.gov
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