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Indiana Revenues Up But Forecasters Cautious About Future Receipts

Indiana’s budget picture continued improving last month as the state collected $31 million more in taxes than forecast for September.

Indiana Budget Director Adam Horst says the state’s improved revenue haul is due largely to improved sales tax and corporate income tax collections.

The state collected $67 million more than anticipated in the first quarter of the fiscal year.

The official revenue forecast will be updated in December, but Horst cautioned that current economic forecasts for the national economy are more pessimistic than those used for the April projections.

(Information for this story came from the Associated Press)

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Daniels Announces Bonuses For State Workers

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels announced today that the state will award bonuses to most government workers to recognize their cost-saving efforts over the past several years.

Most workers will get one-time bonuses of $500, $750 or $1,000 based on their performance over the last year.

State Auditor Tim Berry reported yesterday that the state ended the year with about $1.2 billion in cash reserves, thanks in large part to the efficiency efforts of state workers.

Daniels said that the rest of the state’s surplus is likely to be socked away rather than spent to replenish cuts to education and health care made over the last year.

“This national economy is staggering. Everybody now sees what we’ve been seeing for a long time, which is that this is a very anemic recovery with a lot more clouds,” he said.

Indiana state employees got a small pay raise in January. There were no pays hike for three years prior to that because of lagging revenues.

(Information for this story also came from the Associated Press)

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Indiana Revenues Lower Than Expected During Last Budget Period

Indiana Auditor Tim Berry says the state took in five percent less revenue than was anticipated for the two year budget period that ended June 30, but still managed to finish with reserve fund of nearly $1.2 billion.

Berry unveiled the latest numbers today. He says spending cuts across state agencies allowed Indiana to replenish its fiscal safety net without a tax increase.

Governor Mitch Daniels says while the state’s economy is improving, it’s still too early to begin restoring many of the cuts imposed when revenues lagged at the height of the recession.

Indiana lawmakers approved a measure this year that automatically returns any state surplus above ten percent to taxpayers.

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Daniels To Address Lawmakers Tuesday

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels will deliver his annual State of the State Address to the General Assembly Tuesday night.

Daniels says there will be no surprises in his speech, which will focus mainly on jobs and the economy. Like other states, Indiana’s tax revenues are falling well short of projections. Daniels has already ordered state agencies to trim spending by hundreds of millions of dollars from the two-year budget passed just last summer.

The current 30-day legislative session began on January 5 and Daniels says lawmakers have already covered a lot of ground on issues such as property tax caps, ethics reform and local government modernization.

“My impression is that even though this is a short off-year session that some really important work is going on and may well be completed. So, i don’t want to interfere with it. When they’re doing so well i’m trying to stay out of their way,” he said.

Daniels will deliver his speech at 7:00pm Eastern time Tuesday in Indianapolis.

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Daniels Calls For Cuts In School Funding

Citing the state’s slipping revenues, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels says further budget cuts will be needed to offset the shortfall, and has ordered reductions of at least $300 million for public schools over the next 18 months.

A new revenue forecast released Tuesday predicts the state will take in $1.8 billion less during the current two-year budget cycle than what was projected in May.

Daniels says the news calls for further belt-tightening.

“We’ve already cut state agencies by twenty percent and higher ed by six. We’re now forced to our last resort. K-12 spending is half the entire state budget and it will have to contribute something to keeping us in the black,” Daniels said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

“I’ve asked the state board of education to meet quickly and recommend how much reduction can be absorbed without reducing the number of classroom teachers. I’ve also asked their guidance on steps superintendents, school boards and teachers themselves can take to prevent layoffs.”

Daniels says those recommendations are due by Friday.

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Daniels Concerned About GOP Budget Plan

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels says a state budget plan crafted this week by state Senate Republicans spends too much and relies too much on federal stimulus money.                             gov_form_lo1

The two-year plan that cleared the GOP-led Senate Appropriations Commiteee Thursday spends about $2 billion in stimulus funds, much of it on education.                             

Daniels, who’s also a Republican, says he has many concerns about the budget, but the stimulus element is the most troubling.

“I have strong views but i’m prepared to set many of those, or perhaps all of those aside, in pursuit of the main goal, which is to protect education and vital services two years from now, and to protect taxpayers,” Daniels said Friday

The budget has been sent to the full Senate for consideration.