News and Tribune

July 18, 2012

THEIR OPINION: Editorials from around Indiana

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Recent editorials published in Indiana newspapers; Distributed by The Associated Press

Gov. Daniels set high fiscal bar for successor to meet

Unlike Mitch Daniels eight years ago, the next governor of Indiana will inherit nothing like the mess that awaited Daniels. Daniels, a Republican and former White House budget chief, was about to assume a $600 million deficit built up under Democratic governors and a Democratic House of Representatives. In fact, the state even owed more than the $600 million, having deferred payments to schools and to local governments. Indeed, Indiana government was in a state of stagnation.

Fast-forward to the current gubernatorial election, which finds Republican Congressman Mike Pence, former Democratic Indiana Speaker of the House John Gregg and reality television celebrity Rupert Boneham, the Libertarian candidate, vying to succeed Daniels. The winner will face difficulties, but nothing as challenging as the deficit Democrats left for Daniels.

It was announced recently Indiana has ended the fiscal year with an extra $2.1 billion in hand. That’s remarkable, considering where Indiana came from while weathering the national recession. It is difficult to direct credit anywhere other than to Daniels, who stubbornly insisted on unpopular spending cuts.

Even today, Indiana Democrats are critical of Daniels’ fiscal discipline. A report in the Evansville Courier & Press this past week credited Democrats with saying that some of the money in the surplus should have been spent enhancing state services instead of providing tax credits.

Those credits, $100 each, will be given back to taxpayers as a credit on their income taxes next spring, another program championed by Daniels.

But the Democrats continue on. ... Indiana House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said the surplus has been built by an administration devoted to hoarding tax dollars instead of “spending them on programs and services for the people.”

Bauer said the savings don’t mean much when families have to pay fees to make sure their children get a proper education.

It is true that Daniels has asked numerous state agencies to cut spending. The surplus was the result not only of those cuts, but also of some agencies returning money to the general fund.

It won’t be easy for the next governor, who will have to decide how to fund infrastructure improvements.

So the question for gubernatorial candidates is, which approach will they take when they assume responsibility for state government? Will the winner follow Daniels’ tight fiscal strategy, listen to Bauer and put money back into programs cut by Daniels, or will he choose a middle path? Their answers are of vital importance to Indiana voters.

— Evansville Courier & Press

Flawed premise deprives voters

ID laws do nothing more than suppress participation

Indiana’s voter ID law, which requires voters to show a valid, government-approved ID card in order for their vote to count, has been on the books for several years and was among the first in the nation to be adopted.

We’ve been an opponent of the state’s stringent law from the start, and not because we don’t want secure elections devoid of fraud. Rather, we’ve suspected from the beginning that it aimed to “solve” a problem that did not exist, and would serve more to suppress voter participation than it would to prevent fraud in the polling place.

While ours has been a somewhat lonely position, at least among the majority of politicians and other newspaper editorial boards, the prevailing view of these laws may be about to change. We hope so.

The Associated Press, in a story released last weekend, reported that it had reviewed temporary ballots from Indiana and Georgia, which also was an early adopter of a strict voter ID law, and found that more than 1,200 such votes were tossed during the 2008 general election. It also found that this year, in sparsely attended primaries in Indiana, Georgia and Tennessee, hundreds more ballots were blocked.

What the AP’s review suggests is that legitimate votes rejected by the laws are far more numerous than cases of fraud that advocates say they’re trying to prevent.

Of course, in this fall’s general election, thousands more votes could hang in the balance when larger states with new, similar rules tally votes. Not only does this mean legitimate voters are being stymied, but that close elections could actually be decided by this law rather than the will of the people.

Voter ID laws have largely been fueled by Republicans who say they want to prevent fraud. Now that evidence is mounting to show their reasoning to be flawed, we suggest they take another look. And we urge Democrats to start raising their voices about it.

Indiana already has its share of laws unfriendly to voters, including its absurdly early registration deadline a full month before Election Day. It’s time to re-examine the premise of Indiana’s voter ID law and take an honest look at its unfortunate consequences.

— Tribune-Star, Terre Haute