[r73] The budget process

Posted by: Lindsay Devlin  | Friday, February 6, 2015

Every two years, the Indiana Legislature is tasked with crafting the state’s biennial budget. This means that the last and most important piece of legislation that will pass is the budget bill, House Bill 1001, which will contain Indiana’s finances for the next two years. As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I have the unique opportunity to have a hands-on role in this process.

About a year ago, state agencies started submitting budget requests, which contained the amount of funds each agency feels they need to operate, to the State Budget Agency. The legislative aspect of the budget process started when the Speaker of the House assigned the budget bill to the Ways and Means Committee where members will deliberate on all of the proposed agency budgets. The committee then votes on the budget and if passed, it will go on to the full House where it may be further amended on its second reading and then will move to third reading for approval. Once the House passes our final version of the budget, it will move to the Senate for their approval.

When it has been passed through the Senate, many times after further deliberation between the chambers, the bill will move to the governor for signature or veto. If he vetoes the bill, the House and Senate can override the veto with a majority vote. If he signs the bill, it will become the Indiana budget for the next two years.

It is important to remember that the budget bill contains long and well-thought out processes with many checks and balances along the way. We have prioritized crafting an honestly balanced budget with no tax increases, continued government reduction and efficiency, investment in strategic priorities and maintenance of healthy reserves and a stable surplus.

Taking into consideration these main principals, the House will make decisions that will improve the lives of Hoosiers across the state. In fiscal year 2014/2105, the state appropriated over half of its budget to K-12 education. We will work this year to increase education funding while fixing the funding formula, reducing overhead, focusing dollars on the classroom and providing hard-working teachers with a tax credit. Criminal justice funding is also a top priority this session to ensure the state will use best practices in ensuring that punishments fit the crime. Economic development is also a crucial part of the budget. Indiana will continue to be innovative in creating the best environment for private business to grow and create jobs.

Reserve balances are extremely important for our biennial budget. Healthy reserve balances and balanced budgets allow Indiana to have the highest possible bond rating while also providing businesses and individuals with the certainty that Indiana can withstand an economic downturn without having to immediately resort to tax increases. I am proud to know that Indiana remains one of only 11 states with a AAA rating from all three credit rating agencies, which saves Hoosiers millions of dollars in interest payments.

It is an honor to serve on the Ways and Means Committee and to ensure that Indiana continues to use taxpayer dollars in a responsible manner that will increase the livelihood of all Hoosiers.

I will continue to work on legislation and advocate for measures that strengthen our state’s economy. Please feel free to contact my office by phone at 1-800-383-9841 or email at h73@iga.in.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.