[r85] Pond Report: House waits before further discussing state Budget Bill (3/11/2011)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Start Date: 3/11/2011 All Day
End Date: 3/11/2011
Two weeks after a committee approved a balanced state budget, the Indiana House of Representatives remains waiting to openly debate the proposed bill.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved House Bill 1001 that would establish a two-year $28 billion state budget without any tax increases for Hoosiers. However, the Indiana House has been unable to continue the next step of the legislative process to pass this bill because of lack of quorum to conduct business.

The Indiana House is required to have a quorum of 67 members present in order to begin a session. To prevent this from happening 37 of the 40 Indiana House Democrats have remained away from the Statehouse for the last two weeks, and as result have stalled the process of discussing this bill.

After a committee approves a bill, it moves to the House Floor, where each member is allowed to propose amendments that can add or change language to the bill.

Amendments introduced on the House Floor are openly discussed among all the representatives before they vote on whether to add the amendment. This part of the legislative process, depending on how many amendments are offered, can take numerous hours to complete and lets every representative give input on the bill before casting their final vote.

While some of these amendments may be worth considering, part of the problem with an amendment to the state budget is it usually calls for the state to spend more money. It is money that the state does not have right now.

Gov. Mitch Daniels said in his State of the State address in January that we needed to create a balanced budget and for every extra dollar we wanted to spend in a certain area, we had to find a dollar in another area to cut.

A budget bill is one of the most complex and in-depth pieces of legislation the General Assembly will pass every two years. It is also the only constitutional requirement of the General Assembly.

As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I have worked almost every day this session to help create this proposed budget. I have listened to months of testimony from various government agencies and interest groups in order to form a fair budget for all Hoosier taxpayers.

There are amendments to the budget bill, but they can't be openly discussed on the House Floor and voted upon with a lack of the quorum. Once the Democrats return to the Statehouse I am looking forward to discussing these amendments and helping to further create a budget that protects the Hoosier taxpayers.

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State Rep. Phyllis Pond (R-New Haven) represents portions of Allen and DeKalb counties.