Porter: House GOP budget flounders on an ocean of blah

February 27, 2017 Gregory W. Porter

For immediate release:
Feb. 17, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), ranking Democrat on the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, today issued the following statement after House members passed House Bill 1001, a proposed state budget authored by Indiana House Republicans:

“In the 25 years I have served in the Indiana General Assembly, I don’t think I’ve seen a proposed state budget that drew less attention or interest than the one that just passed the Indiana House. Even the Republicans who authored it seemed less than thrilled by the experience. It appears they expended all their energy this session on coming up with a road plan that increases taxes and tolls.

“Since the budget is the one bill that we must pass this session, let me offer a few concerns about the way this particular piece of sausage is being made.

“Much of what is going on here has been seen before. What matters more than anything else is keeping our budget surpluses at impossibly high figures, no matter if it means that critical programs suffer. I’m sure this will garner them praise from business magazines that no one can read, much less afford, but it doesn’t go far in helping fund programs and services that help millions of Hoosiers.

“I’m sure the Republicans will pat themselves on the back for their work in funding our schools, but once again, what they claim isn’t matched by the reality of what’s on paper. There’s less than a 2 percent increase in state support over the biennium, many urban and rural schools are losing funding, and charter schools and vouchers just keep getting a larger slice of the pie. And let’s not forget that we continue to provide millions of dollars in funding for a test that no one wants. Their persistence only pleases the testing companies that get rich off these bloated failures.

“Allow me to note that House Democrats framed and offered their own version of a state budget that was honestly balanced, more fiscally conservative in cutting waste, fraud, and abuse, AND made sure that our traditional public schools got a respite from the severe and irrational cuts forced on them by previous administrations.

“So now that we have seen the House Republican budget, we wait to see what our colleagues in the Indiana Senate will do with it. Judging by the early critiques from lawmakers like State Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) it appears we will be dealing with dueling visions of just how little we can do. I am not optimistic.”