opinion.column

State finds extra $300 million in general fund





Due to an error within the state’s new digital collection software programming, the money was not automatically transferred to the state’s general fund, Daniels said during a press conference.

“Hoosiers got a Christmas bonus,” Daniels said.

The extra money comes from corporate tax collections from 2007 through 2012. Out of the state’s 28 revenue streams, one of them, using a payment option called “e-check,” did not have the appropriate code for the general fund.

While Daniels said this only accounts for half of 1 percent of the funds moved through the system, it totals $288 million.
A standard audit caught the mistake.
During the press conference, Daniels also touted the state’s overall fiscal condition, saying Indiana’s revenues are running ahead of projections.

The November revenue report shows that Indiana is running $117 million above the forecast for the fiscal year, he said.

“As far as I’m concerned we just drew the Community Chest card,” Daniels said, holding up a Monopoly game card. “‘Bank error in your favor.’ Collect not $200 but something much more.”

While Daniels called the incident a “happy error,” state Democrats weren’t as pleased with the find.

In an emailed statement, Indiana Senate Democratic Leader Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville) pointed out that public school funding was cut by $300 million in the past year’s budget.

“What a coincidence,” Simpson said. “The Governor suddenly found $300 million in misplaced state dollars. This wasn’t just an accounting error. Children got hurt by this, families have suffered. And it all could have been avoided.”

Simpson said Indiana residents deserve to know whether the error was incompetence or if it was an intentional misleading of the public.

“The budget was based on the numbers reported by the Budget Agency,” she said. “Was the Budget Agency asleep at the wheel? How can we trust checking account balances in the future?”

Simpson called for an immediate investigation into how the mistake occurred.

“The budget cuts have meant thousands of laid-off teachers and support staff, overcrowded classrooms and cuts to extracurricular activities,” she said. “We’ve lost a whole year of educational opportunities for our children because of this misplaced money.

­— Jake New

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