Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 9, 2013

Don’t blow it, lawmakers


The issue: The state of Indiana’s firm financial standing.

Our view: Now’s not the time to go on a spending spree and undo what’s been done to get us here.

The news is good in Indiana. We’ve got more than $1 billion in new revenue and another $2 billion in reserves. We’re sure that news was met with a giant sigh of relief for the Indiana lawmakers starting their 2013 session this week. That takes a lot of pressure off as they begin work on a new two-year budget.

Not too much pressure we hope.

Many are telling us to not worry. We don’t expect a spending spree, they say.

Pardon us for still planning to watch budget talks through our hands.

We encourage lawmakers to be optimistic about our state’s fiscal future, but not so much so they think they’re clear for a spending takeoff. For now, we’ll remain cautiously optimistic they’ll treat this coveted position we find ourselves in with the respect it deserves.

They must continue the fiscal conservativeness that got us in this position in the first place. Now, we implore them, is not the time to casually undo everything that’s been done.

To hear Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, tell it, there needs to be “strategic restorations of what we’ve had to cut in the past.” We’ll watch closely what those “strategic restorations” will be when lawmakers are called upon to make the tough decisions. They’ll come sooner rather than later as the wolf’s already at the door.

Some are calling for a 7.5 percent increase for the state’s universities, and public schools are crying for more money. We don’t claim to know the right answers this early in the game and wouldn’t expect lawmakers to know them either.

While we wait, though, we think Senate appropriations chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, has the right idea.

“Lawmakers have worked hard in recent years to put our fiscal house in order, and we must continue down that path in 2013. ... We want to continue to stimulate job growth while, at the same time, guarding against future economic instability.”

We couldn’t agree more.

We got here because of a conscious, concerted effort. We can’t afford to go about the next budget willy-nilly and start spending hard-earned cash just because we can. If we do, we will not only cause ourselves to lose our firm fiscal standing, but we’ll also set ourselves up to not return to it anytime soon.

Let’s all hope that doesn’t happen.