GARY │ Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock gave an overview of the state’s fiscal situation at the Gary Chamber of Commerce's general membership luncheon Monday at Majestic Star Casino.
Indiana’s fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30. Mourdock said as the fiscal year began, it was believed the state would close the year with $155 million more taken in than had been spent, which would be added to the state’s $1.9 billion surplus.
But in the first few months of this fiscal year, state revenue slowed down and in December a new forecast lowered expectations, Mourdock said.
“But with the recent acts of the state legislature in laying out the budgetm it appears we will close the year with probably $100 million more in the end than we spent, so we should end the year with slightly over $2 billion in surplus,” he said.
Mourdock said Hoosiers should appreciate the reality of that.
“There are so many states right now that are deeply in the red and don’t see many options of coming out of the spending crisis they have,” he said. “In Indiana we have been very fiscally prudent. It’s been very painful at times in reducing cost, but we’ve done that. And that’s why the budget was revived.”
Mourdock said at of the end of March, Indiana’s revenues are up about 1 percent over the expectation given the revised forecast, which means the state is about $103 million ahead of what was predicted.
Mourdock said sales taxes for this year thus far are up 1.3 percent and the average Hoosier spends $1,015 a year on sales tax, which is eighth highest in the country.
“Our corporate income taxes are up an astonishing 10 percent,” he said. “That is a huge jump.”
Mourdock said riverboat wagering is down 21.4 percent, “which is a huge number – it’s down $65 million.”
Mourdock said racino wagering is up 1.6 percent, cigarette taxes are up 2 percent and alcoholic beverage taxes are down 14 percent.
Mourdock said on a per capita basis Indiana corporations pay $147 per person in Indiana in tax, which is ranked 17 among the states.
“That is not an insignificant number,” he said. “It is one you probably know the state legislature continues to attack. I’m always asked the question, 'What can Indiana do to get more businesses?' Lower the tax rates. The corporate tax rates in Indiana will decrease come July 1 by 7 percent. But even with that the administration and Legislature has been working hard to reduce taxes on businesses so we can spur more economic growth.”
Locally, Mourdock said unlike Detroit it is not the debt of Gary that has caused financial struggles but rather the sources of income have been relatively low to the city.
“Certainly the real estate tax revisions a few years ago impacted several Indiana communities very hard and Gary was one of those,” he said. “Lake County recently became the last of the 92 counties in Indiana to pass a local option income tax that would allow funds to come forward to help offset the losses from the property taxes.”
Mourdock said he thinks Gary has done a good job in reducing its costs over the last several years.
Mourdock was the Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in the 2012 election. He said “never say never” to any future plans for running for another office.