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Indiana records $100M annual surplus, budget reserve nearly $1.8 billion

State Auditor Tera Klutz announces Thursday at the Statehouse that Indiana spent $100.4 million less than it took in during the 2018 budget year that ended June 30.

Our best attributes also can create rose-colored glasses, keeping us from identifying and rectifying glaring weaknesses.

The Hoosier state and its leaders should take care not to slip into this way of thinking when charting a way forward for quality of place in Indiana.

The state has plenty to celebrate.

The state recently recorded a $100.4 million surplus in revenue over spending in the 2018 budget year that ended June 30.

That's even after Gov. Eric Holcomb funneled $327.1 million in needed additional funds for shoring up the Indiana Department of Child Services.

The 2018 surplus means the state now is sitting on a $1.8 billion budget reserve, which is equal to 11.3 percent of Indiana's annual spending.

It spells solid fiscal footing and the capital for a sterling bond rating.

But the financial prowess earned by the Hoosier state through responsible budgeting and spending shouldn't overshadow the need for improvement in crucial areas.

In a recent annual CNBC poll, Indiana slipped to 16th place, down from 14th last year, in the Top States for Business rankings.

Indiana ranked 5th in the Midwest — behind Minnesota, Michigan, Nebraska and Ohio — in the business-centric cable station’s annual business rankings.

It's true Indiana looks great in the standings, compared to the equivalent of economic brownfields in Illinois, which ranked 28th on the list.

But that's not the bar to which our state should aspire.

Indiana ranked a woeful 46th in quality of life and earned an F grade for the general well-being of its people.

If we're going to grow our population and retain and care for the populace already here, a gutter-level ranking in quality of life isn't the place to start.

Neither are rankings of 20th in economy, 24th in access to capital, 28th in technology and innovation and a disappointing 35th in education, one of the cornerstones of an area's ability to attract and retain families.

It isn't all gloom and doom in the Hoosier state. The fiscally sound condition of Indiana government coffers is a testament to responsible leadership.

But the ability to plan for a better life for residents is an equally important hallmark of leadership.

Ingenuity and investment are essential to that end.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.