Bad weather blamed for state’s struggling revenue numbers

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State leaders say they’re concerned after a revenue report was issued late Friday showing the state collected $54 million less than expected last month. You can read more about this month’s revenue report on the state budget agency’s web site.

Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement about the February revenue report:

“Due to severe winter weather that affected Hoosiers all across the state, this revenue report was not unexpected. Our administration is confident that we will be able to manage budgetary resources in a way that preserves Indiana’s fiscal integrity.”

But some lawmakers said they were worried it could be part of a bigger trend.

“(The weather) is clearly having some impact now, but when I talk, I’m talking about an 8-month figure (and) I don’t know how much snow we got last July, August, and September, but it wasn’t much,”  joked Senate appropriations chair Luke Kenley. “I’m focusing on the bigger picture and I’m still seeing things that are concerning me.”

State Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, also expressed concerns in a statement issued late Friday:

“These numbers disturb me for a number of reasons, not least of which is trying to figure out how the governor and his super-majorities will respond to them.

“First of all, how can we seriously be considering any more reductions in our state’s corporate income tax? Many of us thought this was a misguided effort in the first place, simply because it ignores a greater economic problem in Indiana: the growing wage disparities faced by our middle class. There already were a series of corporate tax cuts in place…this year’s effort now seems even more gratuitous. The additional cuts are expected to cost us at least $560 million through 2023 and an additional $135 million a year after that. How can we afford that?

“I am concerned about the governor’s reactions this year because I remember how he reacted last year when numbers were down: cutting 2 percent in state support from higher education and 3 percent from other appropriations, which were placed in a shadowy ‘reserve.’ How will he react this year? Whose ox will be getting gored? Is it time to take another shot at a K-12 system that already is buckling under past cuts and the ongoing devotion to pumping up private schools at the expense of public schools?

“Finally, this news is only the tip of the iceberg as far as looming financial problems for our state. Here are two examples. We have yet to hear how the governor is going to deal with the potential loss of at least $60 million a year in Master Tobacco Settlement dollars for at least the next ten years, as well as the mounting bills from the disastrous efforts to privatize a good chunk of our welfare system through IBM.

“These problems cannot be ignored. They shouldn’t be ignored.

“At the very least, we need to stop this incessant chatter about cutting more and more taxes for corporations. If anyone needs relief, it’s the people who create the profits for these corporations: the middle class families across Indiana who are the ones really suffering. Let us focus on them as we gauge the fallout from the downturn in revenue.”