EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - There is a public question on Indiana ballots that is confusing some voters. It is a question on amending the state’s constitution in regards to how lawmakers make their budget.
As the Indiana State Constitution is written right now, there is no language requiring a balanced budget. We are told the Constitution reads that the State can only incur so-called casual debt.
Legislatures say the amendment would make budget guidelines more clear. Senator Travis Holdman is one of the sponsors.
He says it is about the State not spending more than it anticipates bringing in. Holdman says they have been advised that having a balanced budget requirement in writing is key to the state maintaining an AAA bond rating.
Holdman is concerned if the question does not pass, that bond rating will be at risk. Holdman notes the amendment has been met with some reservations.
"There’s been some misconception and some discussion about what this was going to do with teachers pensions and public pensions, but I think it’s pretty well been confirmed by the folks that threw that out at the beginning that they were mistaken for what they said, and that’s not the case at all,” says Holdman.
Despite Holdman saying concerns over teacher pensions were resolved, the Indiana State Teachers Association tells us it still strongly opposes the amendment.
ISTA President Teresa Meredith released the following statement:
A ballot measure for Hoosiers this election has gotten little attention and some voters may be confused as to what the question even means. Voters are being asked to vote to approve amending the Indiana Constitution to require that the General Assembly enact a balanced budget for each biennial budget. ISTA opposes the amendment and urges voters to vote “no.” The amendment’s supporters claim that amending the state’s more than 160-year-old Constitution is necessary to ensure the state’s fiscal health. However, efforts behind the amendment are more posturing for political purposes. It is too simplistic to try to equate government accounting with household accounting — especially when essential services for Hoosiers are at stake. Besides, the Indiana General Assembly already takes ample precautions to secure responsible and balanced budgets. Inaccurate information is circulating on social media on how the ballot initiative impacts pensions. Regardless of the outcome, the balanced budget amendment will have no impact on pre-funded public pension funds. The Indiana Public Retirement System confirmed in a posting to their Facebook page stating the, “amendment has no impact on pay go funds and funds that are not paid into by the state of Indiana’s biennial budget.” Indiana voters have approved all 11 constitutional amendments referred to the ballot since 1996.