Indiana officially closed its books for the 2012 fiscal year with the largest reserves in state history. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, Indiana has more than $2 billion in reserves, nearly 16 percent more than budgeted for.
Around $721 million of that will be divided equally between some of the state’s pension funds and an automatic taxpayer refund. The exact refund each Hoosier taxpayer will receive won’t be determined until the fall, but state auditor Tim Berry says it is likely to be around $110 per person.
Berry says even with the state sending that money back to taxpayers and shoring up its pension funds, next year’s forecast looks promising.
“We anticipate that next year’s reserve balance will increase back to about the $2 billion mark,” he says.
State agencies added to the surplus by returning $316 million from their budgets to the general fund.
House minority leader Pat Bauer says the surplus is a result of the administration hoarding tax dollars. In a statement, the South Bend Democrat criticized the state for not spending more on things like the Department of Child Services and public education.
Berry says just because agencies reverted money back to the general fund does not mean programs were cut–merely that they found more efficient ways to spend the public’s money.
But Indiana Association of Cities and Towns executive director Matthew Greller says if the state’s going to give money back from the surplus, it should be used in local communities. Greller says the taxpayer refund is not the best way to spend the surplus.
“What amounts to very little amount of money for an individual taxpayer I think collectively could be used for greater good,” he says.
Greller says he would not want to see more money given back from this year’s surplus since the taxpayer refund is already locked in place.