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STATEHOUSE REPORT FROM REP. NANCY DEMBOWSKI

April 13, 2012
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INDIANAPOLIS – These have not been the best of times for the Daniels Administration.

For a governor fond of bragging nationally that his administration should serve as a shining example of how to run the machinery of government, a number of recent events have demonstrated that these folks are just as fallible as previous administrations that this governor accused of ineptitude.

I’ve talked before about the ongoing crisis taking place at the state’s Department of Child Services (DCS). Far too many Hoosier children are at constant risk of death and abuse, thanks to a bureaucracy that doesn’t seem to care. This mess will be studied by a legislative committee this summer, a move that I feel comes far too late.

We now turn to Indiana’s “right to work for less” law, which was claimed by its supporters to be a critical link in getting Hoosiers back to work, despite ample evidence that it does nothing of the kind.

Upon its passage, the governor claimed numerous companies now were interested in relocating to Indiana. After declining to name any of these companies, the governor then said a business in the southern part of the state had chosen to expand operations because of the new law.

Except that the president of that company said “right to work for less” had nothing to do with its decision. The company was planning to expand anyway.

Just last week, court deliberations wrapped up in the dueling lawsuits filed by the state and IBM over the governor’s failed experiment to privatize many welfare operations, including food stamps and Medicaid. As you might recall, the governor trumpeted this grand privatization plan in 2006, only to cancel it in 2009 when the system turned out to be a complete disaster.

Now the state is suing IBM for $100 million, and IBM is suing the state for at least $125 million. It’s already cost the taxpayers of Indiana close to $9 million in legal fees. One may wonder if this grand experiment was worth this cost.

Within the past few days, we have found that the administration made another accounting mistake that shortchanged area units of government $206 million in local option income tax revenue. This comes on the heels of finding $320 million in corporate tax revenues that had been “lost.”

For those who are keeping track, that is $526 million of your tax revenue that has been mismanaged by this administration in recent months.

You may recall that many Democrats in the Legislature called for an independent audit of the state’s books after we received word last December about the recovery of the lost $320 million. We were told by those who run state government that no such audit was needed.

One has to wonder whether an audit back then would have prevented the $206 million mistake now. That is money used by local units to pay for police and fire protection, among many other services.

Now there will be an independent audit of the state’s fiscal operations.

But just like a study of inadequate services for abused children, this examination of mismanagement of your tax dollars already could have been under way. We already could have taken huge steps forward in calming the public’s fears.

I will make one other point. There has been little contrition from the governor or his underlings about any of the problems that I have mentioned here. I suspect he will gloss these things over when he pumps up his record before the national media.

But these are serious mistakes that affect the lives of millions of people in this state. They should not be shrugged away, as though $526 million is just spare change left behind the couch cushions.

Put it this way. This governor would not have tolerated this type of conduct when he was a candidate for the office. He would have slammed it, and rightly so.

There should be no difference now.

Here’s how you can stay in touch if you have any questions, comments or concerns:

Call my office toll-free at 1-800-382-9842;

Write to me in care of the Indiana House of Representatives, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204; or

E-mail me at H17@in.gov.

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