Summer has come and gone, fall is almost over, and my staff is already preparing for session to begin again in January. I believe the state budget we arrived at in July, based on solid common-sense principles, was a success for Hoosier taxpayers.
The budget was a bipartisan compromise, receiving support from Democrats and Republicans alike. Sound fiscal principles remained an important influence. It is a success, I believe, because:
· It contains no general tax increases.
· It maintains at least $1 billion in state reserves.
· It uses one-time federal stimulus money responsibly, including statewide infrastructure and university construction
· It does not deplete trust funds or other dedicated money for operating expenses.
Gov. Mitch Daniels, along with House and Senate Republicans, outlined those standards early in the process and did not waver. While many states are cutting overall education spending, raising taxes or both, this budget does neither. It even promises more support for education through additional funding.
Statewide public education receives what I believe is solid support:
· K-12 education gained an average increase of 1.1 percent in calendar year 2010 and 0.3 percent in calendar year 2011.
· The budget funds K-12 anticipated enrollment increases at rapidly growing public schools.
· The Ivy Tech Community College network was given enhanced support, and bonding is authorized to fund 38 university capital projects throughout the state, including Indiana University Southeast, Purdue University and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
· The state's higher education scholarship grants program receives increases of 6 percent in fiscal year 2010 and 3 percent in fiscal year 2011.
I believe this is the right budget for Indiana right now, and that's why I voted for it.
Several other proposals I authored became law this year:
Good Funds Law
If you're buying or selling a home, your transaction will be protected by the "Good Funds Law" I authored. This law requires all exchanges of money in real estate transactions over $10,000 to be wired electronically. This protects you from invalid or fraudulent checks when exchanging large sums of money. It's called the "Good Funds Law" because a wire transfer is the only secure way, other than cash, to transfer large amounts of money.
Strengthening Residential Mortgage Lending
This law addresses abuses of the mortgage system that helped fuel the foreclosure crisis. It toughens the penalties for improperly influencing, through bribery, collusion or coercion, an appraiser to inflate the appraisal of a home. The state attorney general's office also has more authority to investigate real-estate transactions.
Protecting the Unborn
I authored House Bill 1698 and cosponsored Senate Bill 236, which were combined to provide pregnant women justice in cases of violent criminal assault. Because of a recent incident in which a pregnant woman lost her unborn twins in a violent crime, I worked with Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi to pass a law that requires adding 6 to 20 years to the prison sentence of a criminal convicted of killing an unborn child while committing or attempting to commit murder. It is critically important to me to protect our unborn.
Controlling Government Spending
I also authored House Joint Resolution 4, and House Joint Resolution 1 in the special session, to force state government to rein in spending to no more than the growth in average household income. Government should not be able to spend more money if your income is not rising. It will take a constitutional amendment to stop the spenders, and I will continue to fight to control government spending.
Thanks for your continued support. This is a great time of year to contact me with your ideas, since we still have time to draft them into bill form before January. If you have suggestions or comments for me as as we get ready for a new session, please contact my office at 1-800-382-9841 or at email@example.com.
Also, keep an eye out for my pre-session survey on various issues affecting Hoosiers which may come up in next year's session. If you live in District 90, it will arrive in your mailbox in a few weeks.
State Rep. Mike Murphy