Pence still bullish on state's economy even after revenue drop

2013-12-13T19:35:00Z 2013-12-14T10:32:04Z Pence still bullish on state's economy even after revenue dropBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
December 13, 2013 7:35 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mike Pence remains optimistic about Indiana's economic future, despite state revenue totals that were well below expectations last month and which forced him to slash $57 million in planned state spending.

"While our revenue projections were higher than what has actually come in, Indiana's economy is growing — 20,000 new jobs since I was sworn in to office, 30,000 since I was elected," Pence said. "Unemployment is dropping."

Indiana's unemployment rate fell 0.3 percent in October to 7.5 percent, a five-year low. The Republican governor said Friday the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the state's commerce agency, is on pace to ink a record number of deals by the end of the year with companies bringing jobs to the state.

"We're attracting more good-paying jobs to Indiana," Pence said. "It's a process in a tough national economy for that to show up, but I'm absolutely determined to continue to not only promote policies that build on that, but make sure Hoosiers know that in our economy all the fundamentals are strong."

If that's the case, the good-paying jobs Pence claims are being created aren't showing up in the state's revenue results.

Since the July start of Indiana's budget year, personal income tax revenue is down $87.6 million, or 4.6 percent, compared to the prior July-November period.

That drop is due in part to $98.9 million in transfers to the state's Local Option Income Tax Reserve Fund, created last December to smooth state distributions of local income tax revenue to counties.

But after accounting for those transfers, state income tax revenue grew only $11.3 million, less than the inflation rate and far less than would be expected with 30,000 additional Hoosiers at work and paying income taxes.

Chris Atkins, director of Pence's Office of Management and Budget, said he couldn't explain why income tax revenue has grown so little, even with greater employment.

Overall, the state's general fund revenue — which pays for schools, most road projects and hundreds of other state services — is down $101.6 million, or 1.8 percent, compared to the prior year.

Budget forecasters in April predicted 2.5 percent growth.

A revised state revenue forecast is due to be issued Friday.

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