Porter on new state budget: what a great budget…for 15 years ago

April 22, 2017 Gregory W. Porter

For immediate release:
April 21, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis), ranking Democrat on the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee, has issued the following statement after passage of House Enrolled Act 1001, which contains the new biennial state budget:

“I suppose you could say this was a great state budget…if it was, say, 2001 or 2002.

“It’s an apt comparison because it seems like that was the last time that the officials who wrote the budget seemed to care that certain obligations must be made in order to properly serve as many people in Indiana as possible.

“Those days are no more. These are the times we live in now…

“Despite a forecast that tells us we have new revenue and the news that we are reverting up to $55 million from tuition support back to the state general fund, tuition support in the next biennium still is being offered at recessionary levels. Suburban schools get the most benefit, while rural and urban schools are left behind again…and we have to mention that the pot of funding for our public schools continues to shrink as we find new and creative ways to funnel more state dollars toward vouchers and charter schools. When it comes to our public schools, it seems that our state has embarked on an active program of student suppression.

“Whenever I have had the chance to review this budgetary handiwork every two years, it always seems like I have to mention that the bill contains no new funding for programs like CHOICE, and programs like food banks and community mental health centers, but that’s only because the funding for these items have been stuck at the same funding levels for more than a decade. Funding for environmental programs also remains in stasis, with less than $100,000 in our Heritage Trust program to preserve lands of natural significance. This kind of budgetary neglect deserves cataloguing in a new State Archives…except that project has been neglected again.

“While I am sure that many will focus on the things we did for roads and bridges—thanks to tax increases—I will note that nothing has been done to address our growing problem with water infrastructure…storm and sewer systems, and the like. Interest in mass transit in cities like Indianapolis will have to grow without reasonable state support.

“Who benefits from this budget – apart from the education as business industry? The affluent will continue to thrive with tax cuts that swell their wallets and do nothing for the rest of us. Hundreds of millions of dollars will be diverted to a ‘Next Level Fund’ to give venture capitalists some taxpayer money to dabble and speculate with.

“But most of all, this budget curries favor with those who consider hoarding your tax dollars toward a swollen surplus their highest priority. They should be very happy at what the Republicans have done with the new state budget. I am sure it will draw them awards from their stuffy peers and photos in glossy magazines that no one can afford, much less want to read.

“Does it help our state’s middle class? Does it help anyone that truly needs a hand up? Again, the answer must be no.”