Porter: GOP achieves usual goal on state budget closeout…huge surpluses and neglecting critical needs

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), ranking Democrat on the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, today issued the following statement on today’s closeout of the state budget:

“Chicken Little’s complaints that the sky is falling have nothing on the Republicans in the governor’s office and the General Assembly. Remember their proclamations back in April about the risk of shortfalls in revenue and how that would prevent some programs from getting the funding they deserved?

“Now we find that things aren’t so bad after all…like usual. In April, Republicans were predicting a shortfall of close to $100 million. Now we see that there is a surplus of more than $410 million.

“We also see them continuing to play their little game with reversions as a means to build the surplus. This time they have reverted more than $180 million from Medicaid, which we had been told in the spring was in a crisis situation.

“So now that we do have more funding, is it OK to spend some money now?

“Can we give teachers in Indiana a 5 percent pay raise? Can we make sure the Department of Child Services (DCS) has the funding it needs to protect at-risk children? Can we fully fund pre-K programs across Indiana? Can we provide more funding to keep our children safe in schools? Can we make sure that the funding is available to protect the thousands of Hoosiers who stand to lose health care coverage if the Republicans succeed in demolishing the Affordable Care Act? Can we at least pony up the $20,000 to pay the state’s share of funding for a doula program that provides physical and emotional support for pregnant mothers?

“It would seem so, but I am not optimistic. It is important to remember that the Republicans’ top budget priority is maintaining a huge surplus. They will continue the fiction that programs like public education are getting more funding than ever before and hope people forget that they have cut that same funding by millions of dollars in past years, and most public schools still are having trouble keeping up.

“These closeouts are supposed to be occasions for celebration. I think that they should be ashamed and embarrassed that they prize hoarding money over improving human infrastructure.”

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