Under the Indiana Constitution, the House is where the budget begins, which means our House Ways and Means Committee is very important and very busy during a budget session.
So it was no surprise that Gov. Daniels started out the State of the State address last Tuesday by discussing the legislature's responsibility in creating a balanced budget.
"We Hoosiers don't like to wait, when we can act," he said, and I couldn't agree more.
As I listened, I found many of his points to agree with the points we have been discussing about the budget. No tax increases. No gimmicks. We want a structurally balanced budget that maintains adequate reserves and preserves funding for K-12 education.
However, we need to accomplish these goals without raising taxes on already struggling Hoosier families. We can't accomplish any of these goals without significant sacrifice.
We need to decide, as the governor said, "what is most important, separated the 'must do's' from the 'nice to do's,' and match spending to income."
Our last revenue forecast showed modest revenue growth over the next two and a half fiscal years, but the expected growth rates are significantly lower than in the periods following most prior recessions. So although our revenue is gradually growing, we are still nowhere near where we should be.
We need a structurally balanced budget-meaning, annual revenues cannot exceed spending-without any gimmicks.
Most importantly, we have to return to an even stronger fiscal position. We must do the people's business while living within the people's means is our fundamental duty in public service.
Over the next month, we will have to decide together what path is best for Hoosiers while keeping in mind that the status quo is no longer an option.
We cannot maintain our current spending levels without driving Indiana's finances into the red before the end of the biennium-which would leave us no choice but to raise taxes.
If you are interested in watching session or the Ways and Means committee meetings, as we discuss the budget, I highly encourage you to do so. You can visit www.in.gov/legislature --click on "Watch Session Live." If you want to watch session, click on the link "Watch video from the House." If you want to watch a committee meeting, you can click on "Watch video from the House Ways and Means committee."
As session progresses and debates continue, I will keep you updated on what is being discussed. If you have any questions regarding the budget or any other legislation, please contact me. You can call me at 1-800-382-9841 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, if you have a student between the ages of 13 and 18 who would be interested in being a legislative page this session, you can visit my website to apply. Go to www.in.gov/h53 and click on "Student Opportunities" and then "Become a Page." If you have any problems, call my office.
While you are visiting my site, please take a moment to fill out my legislative survey. It includes a series of questions concerning issues that will most likely come up this session, and therefore, I would like to get your opinion. If you can't access the Internet, please call my office and we will mail a copy of the survey to you.