INDIANAPOLIS | A doctor has been put in charge of Indiana's financial health.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, appointed 10-term state Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, chairman of the budget-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Brown, an Illinois native, is an emergency room doctor in Montgomery County, south of Lafayette, and former chairman of the House Public Health Committee.
The new chairman pledged to maintain Indiana's balanced budget while looking for ways to invest the state's surplus, particularly in education. He'll be assisted by state Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, chairman of the Ways and Means subcommittee for higher education.
Starting in January, Brown will manage the House process of crafting Indiana's 2014-15 state budget, which takes effect July 1, 2013.
Among the issues certain to require special attention is state funding for a possible 2014 expansion of Medicaid eligibility under Obamacare, the federal Affordable Care Act. Brown said he'll look to other states to figure out how Indiana should proceed.
"The states are the laboratories of experimentation," Brown said. "We don't have to trip on all the hurdles that are coming with Obamacare."
Brown said he plans to wait for state revenue forecasts due in December and April before deciding whether to support Gov.-elect Mike Pence's call to reduce the state income tax rate to 3.06 percent from 3.4 percent.
On the Democratic side, Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, named state Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, the top Democrat on Ways and Means.
The new positions for Brown and Porter were open because the former Republican chairman and ranking Democrat on the House budget writing committee both declined to seek re-election.