Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Daniels fights Dems on Rainy Day Fund

Aren't the two parties' philosophical differences clear?

In spite of Indiana's hard times, Gov. Mitch Daniels continues to resist calls to dip into his state's rainy day fund. Not because he thinks times are great, but because revenue forecasts are, by nature, volatile and -- under his new proposal -- the budget would maintain K-12 education and public safety spending at current rates. Times might not be great, but anytime you can continue funding such massive programs without raising taxes and while balancing the budget, it's not time to build the ark.

Daniels' budget proposal would not dip into the state's rainy-day-fund reserves that now totals $1.3 billion.

He noted that a previous revenue forecast overestimated how much the state would collect by nearly $1 billion. "I think it would be the height of folly to take the easy route to start spending down the savings account, not knowing how badly we may need it," Daniels said.

But if there's money to be spent, Democrats are anxious to spend it just like the gambler who, fresh out of prison, steals a bus ticket to Las Vegas.

The leader of the House Democrats, Speaker Patrick Bauer, said the recession is the worst he's seen; and he indicated the Legislature may have to tap the rainy day fund in order to get the state budget to balance.

"We have a rainy day fund, which is for a rainy day. So when it rains, that's what that's for," Bauer, D-South Bend, said. "I think there's ways to use that to put people to work and make sure our workforce is competitive."