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State Government 2004 Edition

Indiana's legislature, the General Assembly, is in short session (just a month or two) this year.

Pardon the ad hominem comment, but one is so naive if one takes the Hoosier governor's first State of the State address too seriously. None of his goals will ever be met. There are few jobs and barely a cent in tax money to carry them out. Indeed, the state itself is looking at a deficit of just over a billion dollars by mid-2005.

Indiana's legislature built its budget with fanciful income projections last year, only to find its revenues keep falling short. And now we have the governor promising that the budget will be in surplus by 2005 without raising taxes. Um … okay.

It is optimism at its most drunken that makes someone propose full-day kindergarten for all public schools in the state without money to pay for it, and a massive jobs-training program with no jobs out there. And it is optimism at its most blind that makes someone ask for a line-item veto that his enemies will not give.

At least he is focusing on biotechnology instead of information technology as the jobs generator of the future. That is a smart move. When companies now export programming and other information technology jobs overseas, how can there be a future for IT?

The governor's only sensible proposal is the reform of the state government itself, which has proven itself rife with fraud and incompetence. If the governor wants to spend money that isn't there, he might start by pegging state worker salaries to cost of living. You can't expect a state clerk not to look for "side-income" while being paid the same in Indianapolis (with its high cost of living) as in Marion or Fairmount. If the governor successfully restricts his energies to governmental reform, he will have something to brag about when he campaigns for re-election this year.

I see no sign of UCITA rearing its vile head, so we Hoosiers are safe for the moment. Most bills deal with the property tax reassessment and its effects on taxpayers. Some are the usual attempts to restrict abortion, or to abolish or restrict the death penalty. Here's my sample of bills; house bills appear only if they differ from senate ones:

senate bills

house bills


I heard there was another bill to abolish townships altogether and give their functions to counties. But I haven't found it. But I did find that Democratic leaders had discussed the idea. But the rural counties will not tolerate something so disruptive, so my local state senator's SB187 is a compromise.

It's just as well. As it is, Grant and Delaware counties are barely able to carry out their own functions without adding to the mix poor relief, rural fire suppression and rural property assessment. That's the whole idea of separation of powers: If one entity fails, others can still work.

Copyright © 2004 by Andy West. All rights reserved. Last updated 14 January 2004.