We’re not "extreme" in Indiana. Not exactly breaking news, is it? In this case, we’re referring to how our state and local governments spend their money. More specifically, it’s a new report from the Tax Foundation, which uses Census numbers to identify the top 10 states in spending in nine different categories.
Indiana is nowhere to be found in the top 10. Many of the Hoosier spending percentages are similar to U.S. averages. Is that good or bad? Not sure. I guess it means we have balance. But the numbers are interesting. Here are the categories with, in order, U.S. average, Indiana average and top spender:
K-12 education: 23.9% (U.S.); 24% (Indiana); New Jersey, 31.8%
Higher education: 9.1%; 11%; Utah 15.5%
Welfare: 16.8%; 16.8%; Maine 24.3%
Health and hospitals: 8.4%; 8.8%; South Carolina 15.9%
Transportation: 7.6%; 6.8%; South Dakota 15.8%
Public safety: 9.1%; 6.7%; Nevada 13.6%
Environment and housing: 7.7%; 6.2%; Louisiana 15.1%
Government administration: 5.3%; 4.6%; Delaware 8.6%
Governor Mitch Daniels discussed his hopes today to further push government reform in the upcoming legislative session, with Kernan-Shepard Report architects Joe Kernan and Randall Shepard in attendance. We’ve issued a press release in response, indicating our continued support:
When the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform released its 27 recommendations one year ago (on December 11, 2007), the Indiana Chamber said, "This report places the emphasis exactly where it needs to be — on increased local government efficiency and reduced spending."
Kevin Brinegar, Indiana Chamber president, says today: "Nothing has changed. In fact, in these challenging economic times it’s more important than ever for Hoosiers to demand that the General Assembly enact the recommendations of the Kernan-Shepard Commission so that we may all benefit from high-performing local governments, and for those local units to operate as cost-efficiently as possible.
"We’ve been encouraged by the discussion and the progress over the past year. Hoosiers made their preference for better local government clear at the polls in November when they voted to move the majority of the remaining tax assessing duties from the township to the county level.
"This is not strictly a business issue. It’s putting in place a structure that allows everyone easier access to libraries and other government services, as well as helping ensure the highest levels of public safety," Brinegar concludes.