Sunday, January 4, 2009

How rainy? Daniels and Dems square off

Indiana, like nearly every other state, is going through some tough times. It's currently facing a $763 million deficit, and anticipates a $2.2 billion shortfall over the next three years.

One way of helping resolve the deficit is through tapping the state's Rainy Day Fund. The question is: what's a rainy day? A little sprinkle? A steady drizzle? A flooding torrent?

The budget issue to watch will be the Rainy Day Fund, which becomes the bargaining chip between the governor and the General Assembly. Daniels says he doesn’t want it touched, but some lawmakers already are talking about tapping the $1.4 billion surplus, saying the rainy day has arrived.

“If you are standing outside without an umbrella and you are getting wet, you have to look at it,” said Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne.

Followers of GOP 12 will recognize the debate and note how other GOP governors are dealing with their states' rainy day funds. Bobby Jindal refused to tap into his, while Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman both withdrew from their states' rainy coffers for what they determined was an appropriately soggy day.

And now it looks like Mitch Daniels is siding with the super frugal, and taking a stand against a wet dip. In these dire times, it's hard to argue the sky isn't full of tears, but the guiding principle should be... only if you really really really have to. Like excusing yourself to shit while exchanging wedding vows.

Let's see if Daniels holds strong, or whether he's just taking a hypothetical stand that he'll pivot into a bargaining chip for some of his local reforms.