Daniels answers budget questions in Plymouth
PLYMOUTH — After hearing what the governor had to say about the state’s fiscal forecast, people attending the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday left a little more informed, a bit more optimistic, but still with unanswered questions.
Gov. Mitch Daniels assured Chamber members a new, affordable budget would be sifted through after rejecting the state’s biennial budget that now shows a $1 billion deficit in projected revenues.
“Legislators added a billion to January’s proposal so we’ll go back to January’s budget and make it a little tighter.”
Daniels said January’s budget didn’t touch education, public safety or protection of children, which will remain the top priorities in the new budget.
But what cuts are coming remains the question.
“The starting point is not to pretend we have what we don’t have,” he said. “When you have an income drop of 8 percent, you don’t raise spending 3 percent.”
The $1.5 billion in cash reserves should be protected and the $3.5 million in stimulus money used for one-time purposes only, Daniels said.
“We must maintain sufficient reserves to protect against drastic cuts or significant tax increases.”
Taking questions from the floor, Rick Kreps, publisher of the Daniel’s said consumers made a fundamental change in behavior, going from a spending binge where no one was reinvesting to being careful and saving a little more — which is what’s creating a slow recovery.
“Indiana remains at the top of the list for doing business. However, when the world economy stops, it’s like being the prettiest girl in the school, but the prom is called off,” he said.
While the majority of the budget deficit came from Hoosiers not spending, Hoosiers not working and lack of small business investments, Daniels said, the state has kept a positive business climate.
“There’s been seven new deals in Elkhart since January,” he said.
Plymouth City Council member Mike Delp thanked Daniels for the U.S. 31 infrastructure work created with the leasing of the Toll Road.
“Even though I’m in the business of traffic lights, U.S. 31 is a death trap between here and South Bend,” Delp said.
Mayor Mark Senter said while he appreciated Daniels’ openness, there still were thousands of questions facing state budget-makers, which also leaves the city budget hanging in the balance.
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