> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
Confidence needs a fix
The timing of Gov. Mitch Daniels’ trip to Israel was either really good or really bad.
As members of his administration were breaking the news that the Indiana Department of Revenue had mistakenly withheld $206 million that should have been distributed to local units of government, Daniels was out of the country. He had left for Israel two days earlier, the same day he learned of the mistake.
Certainly, the timing was coincidental. Still, it’s unfortunate Daniels wasn’t around to address the inevitable questions about how such a mistake could have happened.
This was the second such snafu that turned up in the last four months. In December, state budget analysts discovered $320 million the state didn’t know it had. The result then was more money for victims of last summer’s stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair and funding for all-day kindergarten at schools across the state. This time, the money will be welcomed by local units of government that have been forced in recent years to make painful cuts to their budgets.
Nonetheless, the news has to be troubling for Indiana taxpayers. How can we be certain this latest accounting is any more accurate than the last one or the one before that?
Two top officials at the Department of Revenue already have left their jobs as a result of the mistake. The department’s commissioner, John Eckart, has announced he’ll leave at the end of the current tax season.
That’s probably appropriate. Anyone who still had confidence in the department after the first mistake had surely lost it with the latest revelation.
The state is searching for an outside auditor to review how it could have misplaced $526 million. The state is also looking at new budget controls that would help it identify problems before they reach such a grand scale.
It is appropriate the state has agreed not only to send localities their lost revenue but to pay interest for the amount of time the units of government went without the money. It’s also appropriate officials plan an independent review to find out what went wrong and how to avoid such an error in the future.
It will take all of those things, and a bit of time, to restore public confidence in the state’s ability to manage our tax dollars.
— Kokomo Tribune
Sounding environmental alarms
When the legislature and governor’s office can unite the business and environmental lobbies in common cause, they have to be onto something.
In this case, it’s something troublesome.
In the name of simplification and efficiency, the General Assembly this year disbanded a number of state panels and commissions and merged three vital rule-making boards: water pollution control, air pollution control and solid waste management.
As of January, all their complex and critical work will be handled by the new Environmental Rules Board, comprising 16 members appointed by the governor.
The streamlining could cost more in institutional memory than it saves in money. If it is to succeed, the volunteer board must be provided with staff to deal with highly specialized, highly technical research and assessment whose impact on natural resources, public health and the economy will be profound.
With the state facing a tight budget for such support, both the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and groups such as the Hoosier Environmental Council are sounding alarms.
They see dangers of too much regulation and too little on matters ranging from livestock waste to smokestack emissions to landfills. That’s understandable, and so is their worry that the board will become over-dependent upon the state Department of Environmental Management.
The Chamber sees a lack of independence and expertise on the board’s part as an invitation to stifle business. Environmentalists, in contrast, note that IDEM has undergone severe budget cuts while Indiana’s national rankings in virtually every category of air, water and soil quality have languished with the losers.
Both sides are making a modest request of a legislative summer study committee: Help lawmakers find money for a full-time in-house technical adviser to guide the board through the thicket of state and federal laws and rules affecting the quality of life of every Hoosier. The committee will look into funding, but hopes are not high. Given the size of the task, the price of not investing would be high — unacceptably so.
— The Indianapolis Star
THEIR OPINIONS | Editorials from Indiana newspapers distributed by The Associated Press for April 11, 2012
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
Confidence needs a fix
- OUR OPINION: Landfill fund payments hurt public trust
- OUR OPINION: If you’re going to do it, do it right
- THEIR OPINION: Sept. 26, 2012
OUR OPINION: It’s time for Clarksville to consider becoming a city
Polston, in abstaining, said he did not have a good enough grasp of how his constituents felt about the voting issue to vote on the matter himself.
If the town gives its residents the opportunity to hear the benefits and drawbacks of becoming a city, and then lets them vote on the issue via referendum, Polston won’t have to wonder.
- CHEERS & JEERS: Aug. 25-26, 2012
- THEIR OPINION: Aug. 22, 2012
OUR OPINION: Residents can gain access at seminar
Here are just a few examples: You have access to information on who gets married and divorced; you can find out what public employees get paid; you can search court records to see if your friends or neighbors have ever been charged with or convicted of a crime; and you can read the minutes of a city council meeting held years ago.
- THEIR OPINION: Aug. 8, 2012
- THEIR OPINION: Aug. 2, 2012
- CHEERS & JEERS: July 21-22, 2012
- More Editorials Headlines