The last episode of IN Focus aired August 2013; the page below is an archive.
The WFIU/WTIU news team continues its coverage of local and regional issues
in a new weekly program, Indiana Newsdesk.
March 1, 2009
New State Budgets
State Representatives along with a professor from IU-B SPEA discuss the difficulties facing the state legislature in passing state budgets during this session.Watch Video »View Article
In Focus sat down with State Representatives Matt Pierce and Vern Tincher along with Dr. Anthony Blasingame, Asst. Professor of SPEA, to discuss a one year budget plan. With an uncertain economy it is unclear how far into the future an accurate budget can predict; therefore the state of Indiana has now adopted a one year budget plan rather than a two year plan. According to State Rep. Tincher a one year budget fits the states needs for right now, “It’s not impossible to craft a budget and we’ll have some better figures and forecast on what our revenue will look like.” Neither State Rep. Pierce nor Dr. Blasingame believe that a one year budget will have any lasting effects on the state but according to Mr. Pierce, “This economy has been so topsy turvy, it has been difficult to know what is going to happen next. We can have a little bit of confidence in some of the projections of the next year but to go out two years, you are just guessing.”
One of Governor Daniels budget proposals wanted to flat line schools, but at the same time he had a significant increase for prisons. State Rep. Matt Pierce believes that, “The long term economic growth of Indiana’s economy depends upon a trained work force, so you have to invest in education if you want to make that happen.”
The states unemployment checks are funded by a payroll tax on employers. Employers pay a percentage to the fund. In 2001 the legislature cut the percent taken and increased the benefits. Therefore the fund is currently running in the red. Unemployed workers are still receiving benefits due federal help.
The state’s 1,2,3 property tax could become a reality sooner than some had thought. The property tax states that 1% of the value of a home is the most a property can be taxed, 2% on farmland and 3% on business and industrial property. Currently the property tax is just a state law but in 2010 there will be a vote to place the 1,2,3 property tax in the state constitution, however there is a move to move it through sooner. According to WIBC reporter Eric Berman.
Representative Vern Tincher (D), believes this is for the best so we will have better figures and forecast on what the revenue will look like and take into account the stimulus money from the government. The city of Elkhart has a 20% jobless rate and has received attention from the government and the national press, and will receive $6.4 million.
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Unemployment Insurance Fraud
Eric Berman discusses the controversy over the unemployment insurance fund. State lawmakers Vi Simpson and Peggy Welch discuss property tax caps.Watch Video »View Article
WFIU News Director Stan Jastrzebski interviews statehouse reporter Eric Berman of WIBC about the unemployment insurance fund. Berman explains that when a person receives an unemployment check, the money received comes from this fund. The money in the fund comes from a payroll tax on employers. In 2001 changes were made on this tax and now we are seeing the effects and almost no money are left in the fund. However, people are still receiving money due to the government lending money to the state of Indiana.
Ann Shea interviews state Senator Vi Simpson and state Representative Peggy Welch concerning property tax caps. They explain that these taxes are being phased in and becoming a part of state law, and it’s under discussion in the statehouse on whether or not it will be put into the constitution. These taxes state that 1% of the value of the home is the most to be taxed, 2% on farmland and 3% on businesses. The amendment will speed up the process and hopefully make it available for this year. If this happens, Bloomington will be in financial trouble especially if it becomes constitutional.
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The Future of Indiana State Budget
Anthony Blasingame Ph.D, from IU’s SPEA gives a final word on what Indiana lawmakers needs to happen so the state budget situation can improve.Watch Video »View Article
During a brief wrap-up interview at the end of the show, Anthony Blasingame (SPEA) says there are some ways both state lawmakers and elected officials can help our state’s economy. An obvious one includes continuously searching for more companies that can provide jobs. Blasingame also says that state leaders need to provide more education opportunities for those needing skills in other fields. When asked whether or not the state should dip into its rainy day fund, Blasingame says that the current situation could be considered a rainy day, but we don’t know how many of those days are yet to come. He says it does make sense to be a little cautious in the next year or so, considering that leaders in Washington D.C. believe that it will get worse before it gets better. But Blasingame continues that state budgets such as the education budget cannot be decreased just to keep the amount of money in the rainy day fund at a steady level, and that money needs to be invested into educational opportunities for citizens and providing good job training.
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