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Holcomb Defends Spending Priorities As He Signs New State Budget

Eric Holcomb

Gov. Eric Holcomb defended how Republican budget writers prioritized the state’s dollars as he signed a new budget into law. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the state’s next two-year budget into law Monday as he defended how Republican budget writers prioritized the state’s dollars.

Holcomb’s fiscal team and legislative leaders said throughout the budget-writing process they were comfortable with state keeping a little less than $2 billion in reserve. But the budget holds back a couple hundred million dollars more than that in the state’s coffers, instead of spending it. Holcomb says that’s prudent.

“If, in fact, there is a downturn, we’re in great shape to be able to respond,” Holcomb says.

One of the places lawmakers allocated less than originally planned is the Department of Child Services, which got $70 million less than initially requested. Holcomb says the final number is adequate as the agency shows progress.

“And if we get into a fix, I will do what I did last time and we will make sure that DCS is fully funded should those numbers take a turn,” Holcomb says.

Holcomb previously shifted one-time dollars to the agency amidst a surge in cases.

In a statement, Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) criticized the budget's spending.

"Balanced budgets are required, but artificially bloated reserves that come at the expense of so many important programs, organizations and people are contrary to the state's primary goal of meeting the needs of its citizens," Lanane said.

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