|The December revenue forecast showed an additional $240 million expected in the first year of the biennium and another nearly $300 million in the second year. Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) gave the following comments in response to the additional dollars:
“This is a very positive revenue forecast and is even better than what we anticipated in April when the budget was passed. These numbers confirm what we have been saying all along: Indiana is in good fiscal condition and that plenty of money is available for teacher pay increases. Senate Democrats will soon file their proposal for a long-term sustainable funding mechanism for teacher raises.
“We had absolutely no reason to cut all of the public programs that had been included in the Senate budget. We could have paid for them then, and this confirms that we have the money to pay for them now. When we reopen the budget during this legislative session, we need to reinstate some of those proposals. Further, given the extremely low interest rates, it makes no sense to cash fund the projects that were set to be bonded.
“Our public health spending is the lowest in the nation, leading to some of the worst infant and maternal mortality rates in the United States. Our smoking rates are increasing while most other states’ rates are decreasing. We have the slowest teacher salary growth in the nation, so it’s no surprise that we have a teacher shortage crisis on our hands.
“We demand that this extra revenue be invested in worthwhile and needed programs, and that it not just disappear into the black hole we call Indiana’s bloated surplus. It’s time to show Hoosiers where our priorities really lie.”