Crafting another honestly balanced biennial budget - no gimmicks and no general tax increases or new taxes - trumps everything else this session. There will be great challenges in achieving this goal, but now more than ever, legislators must work to protect Hoosier families and their pocketbooks.
Nationally, our economy has taken some hits, and while Indiana is in better shape than our Midwestern neighbors because of our self-discipline, we face reduced revenue and increased demands for services.
A recent revenue forecast shows a $767 million gap between projected income and projected spending from 2010-2011. This means we must carefully examine every fiscal decision we make. We must be both creative and prepared to cooperate in a bipartisan manner.
In response to the economic forecast, state agencies are cutting back, state employees will forgo pay raises until 2010, and local governments are finding ways to save, too - just like you and your family.
However, even though these are difficult economic times, we must not compromise the quality of the essential services we provide, such as public education, Medicaid and unemployment benefits. But we must not dip into the state reserves. Sacrificing future flexibility for a short-term fix would ultimately have a negative impact on our state's fiscal condition.
We must work to find a way to not only save the state and taxpayers money but also continue to provide the quality of service Hoosier taxpayers expect. We must remember to avoid panic and to remain disciplined. That's the only way we can succeed. We have great challenges, but we also have great opportunities - opportunities to prepare and position Indiana for a strong recovery and an even stronger state economy.
Please visit my new Web site: www.in.gov/h20
State Representative Tom Dermody