Porter on budget close-out: Measures to balance budget will come at the expense of the most vulnerable Hoosiers

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), Ranking Democrat on the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, today commented on the adverse effects of the recent close-out of the state budget. Last month, the State Budget Agency released its annual report on the 2019-20 fiscal year which ended June 30.

The report showed that Indiana's revenue collection fell more than $1.4 billion than initially estimated. A significant portion of that revenue loss was due to the tax deadline extension which attributed to $800 million in lost revenue.

“COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the physical and economic health of Indiana,” Porter said. “No one could have predicted the consequences the pandemic would have on our state's budget. Indiana's constitution requires a balanced budget, and to achieve that our state leaders pulled funding from the health and socioeconomic programs that serve as the supportive underpinning of our most valuable asset: human infrastructure.”

Notable transfers to the general fund originated from Medicaid, the Indiana Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled (CHOICE) Program, Early Childhood Learning (ECL) and the Indiana State Department of Health.

“There is no disputing these difficult fiscal times, but some of these choices made by Governor Holcomb are unfathomable – especially in a pandemic,” Porter said. “Shockingly, the Indiana State Department of Health had $1.5 million cut with $562,000 coming from the infectious disease line item. You would think that the state agency responding to the COVID-19 pandemic would be spared from such cuts. During an unprecedented pandemic adversely affecting nursing homes, the CHOICE program which allows seniors to stay in their homes with a modicum of funding had $2 million reverted.

“The list continues at the expense of Hoosiers.

“It is my sincere belief that other options could have been pursued to provide some reasonable and sensible balance when it came to keeping our Indiana's fiscal health sound. Since this was not the case, the actual health of our most vulnerable citizens will most likely be unnecessarily compromised.”

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