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State Auditor's “Closing of the Books” More Spin than Fact

The Auditor of State should be an independent watchdog for Hoosier taxpayers, not a source of partisan spin used to further the agenda of one political party.  On Friday, the current Auditor of State “closed the books” on the State’s fiscal year.  Rather than reporting a quantitative analysis of the State’s fiscal condition, we received a highly nuanced report that did little more than serve as tenets supporting the spending policies of the current administration.  One would have thought that Auditor of State Tim Berry was an employee of the Governor rather than an independent voice for Hoosier taxpayers.
In his press conference Friday, Auditor of State Tim Berry led Hoosiers to believe that Indiana continues to be fiscally sound compared to other State Governments.  The facts tell a different story:
    *Indiana has spent nearly half of its reserves, a decision that will essentially postpone additional cuts to a more politically sensitive time period.  Without the use of reserves, Indiana would have been operating under deficit spending;
    *No strategic plan exists to respond to the continual decline of corporate and personal income tax streams, which left alone, will force more draconian cuts similar to those posed on K-12 education in the latest round of spending cuts, and;
    *The recent cuts to the state budget have been made with very little legislative oversight.  Efforts to understand specific cuts and the procedures for making them have been met with zero transparency.
While intelligent minds can disagree on spending priorities in the time of financial crisis, the role of the State Auditor must remain constantly analytical.  I believe the Auditor’s office should be a source of independently reviewed financial data and analysis, not just another source of political spin.  In addition to providing more proactive and transparent information regarding the State’s finances, I will also implement innovative business practices to find additional tax savings for Hoosiers.  While it won’t bridge the entire budget deficit (yes, that is what we have), it will help legislators fund priorities that benefit our struggling economy – job creation, economic stimulus, and an investment in future generations of Hoosiers.  This is the least we should expect from Indiana’s Chief Financial Officer.

Sam Locke
Democratic Candidate for State Auditor

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