Smaltz: Hoosier taxpayers deserve a balanced budget requirement

Posted by: Jake Thompson  | Friday, October 19, 2018

On Nov. 6, voters will have the opportunity to support a proposed constitutional amendment that would ensure Indiana continues to live within its means – just as Hoosiers do every day. If passed, the amendment would hold state government accountable by requiring the Indiana General Assembly to maintain an honestly balanced state budget.

Under conservative leadership, Indiana has maintained a balanced budget for the last seven years, along with a AAA bond rating from all three major credit agencies. Our state’s fiscal health and top-rated business climate helped lead to a record number of jobs pouring into Indiana and record low unemployment. It’s important to ensure the state continues on this path now and into the future.  

If the constitution is amended, it would not tie the hands of state lawmakers in the event of an economic downturn. In a case where the state needed to spend more than the available funds on hand, a two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate could suspend this balanced budget requirement. Also, the amendment would ensure all future state budgets continue funding public pensions, protecting employees like teachers, firefighters and police officers.

In order to offer a constitutional amendment to Hoosier voters, the proposal must be approved by two separately elected general assemblies. In 2015 and 2017, I supported this measure and it was approved by both the House and Senate with wide margins, allowing the question to be included on this year’s general election ballot.

On the ballot, public question No. 1 will read: “Shall Article 10, Section 5 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana be amended to require the General Assembly to adopt balanced budgets for state government that do not exceed estimated revenues unless a supermajority of two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives and two-thirds of the members of the Senate vote to suspend the requirement.” A “yes” vote means you support requiring Indiana to maintain a balanced biennial budget, and a “no” vote means you oppose adding this requirement. 

While Indiana’s constitution currently bans the state from incurring most types of state debt, there’s still room for overspending gimmicks. Adding this strong constitutional safeguard could prevent future legislatures from passing on unnecessary debt to our children or grandchildren, and when I go to the ballot box Nov. 6, I will be voting yes.

If you have any questions on how this proposed constitutional amendment could impact our community and state, please reach out to me at h52@iga.in.gov or 317-232-9833. 

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State Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-Auburn) represents House District 52,

which includes DeKalb County as well as portions of Allen and Steuben counties.

Click here to download a high-resolution photo.